Archive for March, 2016

The State of the Union

Michael Brown on The Shocking Quote That Exposes The State Of ‘The Hood’:

A 17-year-old Miami teen named Trevon Johnson, a student at D. A. Dorsey Technical College, was shot and killed by a female homeowner who encountered him after he had broken into her house.

But Johnson’s relatives were very upset, saying he didn’t deserve it. As his cousin Nautika Harris commented, “I don’t care if she have her gun license or any of that. That is way beyond the law – way beyond.” … “You have to look at it from every child’s point of view that was raised in the hood. You have to understand… how he going to get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point-of-view.”

Can you imagine another time in our history when words like this could have been spoken? And has there been anything quite like “the hood” that this woman describes, a place where the family is so shattered that burglary is considered a natural way for a child to get money for his school clothes?

Of course, there’s no excuse for this young man’s actions and there’s no justification for his cousin’s words.

Brown notes the impact of the breakdown of the family and the need for religion to get back in the game. But what ya’ goin’ do when they can’t even speak English properly? 

What is, perhaps, also shocking is that 17 of 44 readers of the essay rate it as “ridiculous” and 6 of 44 rate it as insane. Perhaps they were rating the topic and not the theme? 

It is a deep hole and it will take a lot of effort to find a way out.

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How do you fight Goliath?

William Perry Pendley: When the National Park Service overreaches — “The federal government is a terrible neighbor and a worse landlord.”

A tale out of Washington State, however, involving a private concessionaire within a unit of the National Park Service (NPS), reveals that the federal government is a worse landlord, one that holds the rights of its tenants in the lowest regard, believes itself unconstrained by the law of the land, and uses its power and its hundreds of lawyers to beat American citizens into submission. Whether it will get away with such tactics this time remains to be seen.

Find the Coyote Blog for more tales of how the government treats concessionaires. It is ugly.

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White togas and spackling the records of opponents

Clarice Feldman takes on the ‘holier than thou’ in Trump Storm Troopers Mob Sanders Rally: Force Cancellation.

Some years ago I wrote here of my contempt for conservatives who flee the forum for fear of getting their spotlessly white togas spattered with mud and blood when their colleagues are being savaged by liars and thugs. This week my White Toga award goes to Ted Cruz. As thousands of rent a mobs from Soros funded Move On, the White House approved Black Lives Matters fabulist race baiters, and Bernie Sanders fans mobbed and threatened the thousands of people who’d waited in lines for hours to attend a rally in Chicago for Donald Trump. Even Obama pal and admitted terrorist Bill Ayers, doubtless reliving his “glory days” as a Weatherman was there cheering the mayhem on

Cruz’ offering up a justification for this behavior also played into the press game of targeting Republicans while spackling the records of their opponents. Of particular amusement is this piece in the Washington Post (whose editors must be on permanent leave):

Trump is known for his massive, raucous rallies — part campaign events, part media spectacles, part populist exaltations for his most loyal supporters. But the events have also become suffused with the kind of hostility and even violence that are unknown to modern presidential campaigns. The candidate himself often seems to wink at, or even encourage, rough treatment of protesters.

What is conveniently ignored is that these demonstrations are set up by Trump’s opponents specifically to provoke tensions and fights which the press then propagandizes. By this means they hope to set him up as what he is not — a racist — to scare off supporters and drive Blacks and Hispanics to the polls to vote for his Democratic opponent.

Rather than excusing the offended or incited, it is time to hold them accountable for their own behavior. It is ugly already. It is likely to get only worse unless people are held to account. And this account can be for violations of national security to rioting while free speech should be held free.

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Chicago protests and the blame game

A campaign rally had to be ‘postponed’ due to violent protests. The candidate is being blamed because of his tough language about “bad dudes.” That sort of blame the victim and not the criminal media propaganda is what is driving the popularity of the candidate. Paul Mirengoff observes:

This is beyond bad dudeism. The left is attempting to “shut all the way down” the leading contender for the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties. If the left has its way, Trump will not be able to speak in public. He will have to run the modern equivalent of a front-porch campaign.

With no sense of irony, the protesters, having successfully shut Trump down, chanted “this is what democracy looks like.” Many of them also chanted “Bernie,” suggesting that they really mean “this is what Democratic Socialism looks like.” In so, they probably aren’t wrong.

The violence is from the left. It ranges from violent disruption of campaign rallies to several senators who have written a letter accusing the Inspector General at the Department of State as being too political. These intimidation techniques ranging from actual violence to efforts at intimidation have been all too successful. The fact that much of the electorate notices this and is not happy with the ‘go along to get along’ methods is why the candidate, Trump, has such a popular following. There is a rising to meet that violence and intimidation – the bullying – in the manner of the last resort. That does not bode well as bullies don’t pay much attention to the ‘kinder and gentler’ of the available methods for honest discourse.

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Case study comparisons

Rick Wallace takes a look at A case study bearing on the nature of “consensus” in normal science and in the AGW controversy. He looks at the idea of consensus in evolutionary biology and the definition of species, quantum mechanics, and other areas.

But I would contend that this is what real scientific consensus looks like. In such cases, discussants never take the ideas in question as sacrosanct, and because – at least in a normal, healthy science – intelligent inquiring intellects are constantly evaluating ideas for themselves and setting them against their own experience, such ideas are subject to vigorous and even harsh examination, often leading to a range of opinion, especially if there are serious conceptual or semantic difficulties (as there are in the case of the species concept).

Thus, in real science any state of agreement is labile at best – and establishing a consensus is about the last thing on peoples’ minds. I would go so far as to say that under these conditions, as often as not, a leading idea is a target to take aim at rather than a flag to rally ‘round.

Obviously, this cast of mind is utterly different from what we find in the AGW arena. Which in itself is compelling evidence that the motivations are different in normal science and in (C)AGW.

What is perhaps most fascinating about modern spectacles like the AGW movement (and here I’m thinking in particular of the Moscow show trials of the 1930s) is that the truth is always right there in front of everyone – and it is always apparent to those who can see.

Once again it is the point that the observable behavior can tell you about the quality of the intellectual integrity.

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It’s our response to the radiation

The BBC has a short video exploring the question: Has Fukushima’s radiation threat been exaggerated?

Five years after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in north-eastern Japan, one expert is asking if the impact of the radiation was massively exaggerated.

Professor Gerry Thomas, a leading authority on the effects of radiation, walks the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes through the deserted exclusion zone and measures radiation levels.

What goes totally by the board is the mass casualties due to the earthquake and tidal wave. That has now become history while FUD mongering about the nuclear plant hit by that event continues to make headlines. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island also come up on a regular basis in the same vein. The abandoned cities and other responses to fears are shown to illustrate a danger that has never been realized by any measure that makes a clear distinction from the normal.

It is the same with climate where the measures of an ideologically desired effect are so small that they are difficult to separate from ‘normal’ that FUD mongering has to take the place of actual reality.

Dragons and demons are real, it seems, but the still only exist in the minds of those invested in fairy tales and fears. The cost of the response to those fears is not considered in any rational way. Fukushima was hit by a natural disaster outside of its design considerations yet still did not provide a worst case scenario. How much is spent on trying to be perfectly safe in an unsafe world? What is the implication of such spending on the lives and health of the populace? How is the balance?

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Self-identifying behavior

All of this has been known for a decade. Only conspiracy theorists and manipulative demagogues continue to claim that “Bush lied us into war in Iraq.” Consider it a self-identifying behavior and choose accordingly.

Ed Morrissey makes the point about the Iraq war. The key isn’t so much what the opinion is, it is the behavior in response to reality. The “Bush lied” meme is one that sweeps history under the rug and that sort of behavior self identifies those who choose fantasy over reality.

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The romantic eco-left

The romantic eco-left consists of upper-middle-class people who can’t put two and two together when it comes to economics or science. They just assume that water will come out of their faucets and electricity out of their outlets. These people love global warming because it provides a story that allows them to pursue their bizarre, anti-modern goals under the guise of saving the world.

Since science is no longer scientific, but political, global warming belief breaks down along political lines. The Democrats believe, and the Republicans are skeptical.

Norman Rogers: Yet Another Hottest Year on Record

Other than the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy (“Neither party pays much attention to the scientific facts”), Rogers brings up a few good points worth considering.

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Core competence. Do we have enough to hold the structure (of civilization) together?

Sarah A. Hoyt goes on a tear about The War On Competence.

We’re reaching a critical point where everyone is running on make-believe competency, certainly in any large organization. This cannot go on. What can’t go on, won’t.

And when it collapses, we’ll need competent people.

An abundant society can survive incompetents. A lean society, living close to the bone, can’t.

Are there enough of us to keep things up when the walls collapse? I don’t know. Impossible to tell. Though the proliferation and popularity of youtube videos on how to do stuff from basic to complex would seem to indicate so, as would the maker movement, as would a lot of millenials who can detect bullsh*t a mile away and who want to learn to DO. And then there’s the fact the human animal is infinitely adaptable and when adaption is learning, it will learn.

Maybe even in time.
Teach your children well and build under, build around, build beside. Our makeshift structures just might end up uplifting a crushing load. Maybe not tomorrow, but certainly not far off now.

The fact that we have an abundant society has been sufficient to maintain progress. What has created that abundance is under assault and that has reduced progress to a mere dribble. The fear is that, as the assault continues, progress will change to regression. Survivalists and Home Schoolers have this driving their efforts. The Makers and other hobbyists who build and create and invent just do it for the joy of it. Any who chose to “build under, build around, build beside” have more resources available for their education and learning now than ever before but even that is under assault with taxation, fears about privacy, and protectionism. Worried, yet?

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Straw men in consensus – is that science?

Another survey by ‘social scientists’, another example of the problem. Ronald Bailey: The Debate Over Global Warming Is Just a Big Misunderstanding, Says Study — “Or is it?” The stimulus here is a study by Princeton psychologist Sander van der Linden and his colleagues.

Overall, the authors espouse what they call the “gateway belief” model of persuasion: If Americans are told that most scientists think man-made climate change is happening, they will think so too. Not only that: They will become more worried about it and start demanding government action to stop it. And so the study essentially endorses more science education as the way to resolve climate change rows.

These findings contradict previous research from the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, which concluded that beliefs about politicized areas of science are generally treated as cultural signals telling fellow partisans that you are a good person who is on their side. According to the Yale researchers, getting people to change their minds about a politicized issue amounts to trying to persuade them to betray their tribe. This dynamic makes them highly resistant to attempts to bombard them with alleged widely agreed-upon facts. Contrariwise, the folks at the Cognition Project find that the smarter a person is, the easier it is for them to find “proof” for his or her beliefs.

There are a few items mentioned that should lead to skepticism about the study report. First up is the political bias differences. When Democrats and Republicans disagree, the issue isn’t science, it is politics. Second on the list is the straw man based on fuzzy definitions and misdirection. The political disagreement is about governmental interference and cost versus benefit differences regarding the importance and level of understanding of potential human caused climate catastrophe. Exactly what global warming means and the specific items of ‘scientific consensus’ happen to be are not clearly defined nor placed into an appropriate context. A third item on the list is putting scientific consensus as something of value above all else. In science, skepticism is the value that takes precedence as it leads to learning and the advancement of knowledge. That leads to another item which is mislabeling appropriate skepticism as a denial and ideological ignorance.

The idea that ‘more science education’ will solve the problem has been around for a long time as well. It is a simplification of human cognition that has been around for ages and is as much a historically demonstrated falsehood as the idea that socialism will lead to economic prosperity. The correlation between the populations holding these two beliefs is something to consider carefully as well. An esoteric example of this is the argument about whether to teach the traditional biology then chemistry then physics order or to reverse the order to provide a more logical presentation based upon dependencies. From a cognition standpoint, it is a matter of learning to handle abstractions effectively. High school biology is mostly hands on observation and description while physics tends towards the abstractions of algebra and calculus. This, in turn, gets into the efforts to change curriculum away from algebra towards something ‘more useful’ like statistics or to implement programming techniques rather than intellectual development.

The amazing thing is that the U.S. does so well in STEM despite the populace fascination with alternative whatnot, snake oil cures, FUD mongering, and political candidates who make absurd promises and intellectually vacuous rationales for their behaviors. 

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