Monday, February 28, 2011


Oscar Picks/Results

I was 9/10 in the top 10 (Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Supporting and Lead, Best Director, Best Song, Best Foreign Film, Best Screenplays, Adapted and Original)--I only missed Foreign Film. That's not bad. Of the next 14, I only got 6 right (although two of my second choices took it) for a grand total of 15/24. Not great but good enough for a free lunch, even though they tell me there's no such thing. Generally, the Oscar show pretty much sucked.

I really ought to get out and see more movies.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


More Warmie Science Failures

Here is a graph from Warmie founder James Hansen in the late 80s predicting what he thought would happen to global mean temperatures. He had numerous scenarios--CO2 increases faster than predicted, CO2increases as predicted and CO2 does not increase because humans heeded his call and cut their energy use. That's last is the C scenario line, and of course the C scenario didn't happen. So what has accurately measured, world mean temperature (red line) done? It hasn't even reached the C scenario line.

Really the only 'evidence' the Warmies have regarding a world mean temperature increase in this century is computer models and when the reality of measurement and data show the model predictions to be wrong, you'd think the scientists would start to question the underlying theory. You'd think.

Another prediction was that there would be a hot spot about 10 kilometers up over the tropic. As shown here, the Warmies are 0-2.

Although the exact slope of the flat part of the graph of the effect of CO2 on world mean temperature is debated, no real scientist thought that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would cause more than 2 degrees C. rise by 2100, just 89 years from now. However, the mid-range of IPCC temperature prediction in 2100 was higher than that, at 3.5 degrees C. and the high estimates were at or about 5.7 degrees C. How was that supposed to happen? By amplification, specifically by a positive feed back system regarding the most important green house gas, water vapor. It was rational to suppose that with increased temperature, even one or two degrees over the century, the extra heat would cause more of the water in the oceans, lakes and streams to evaporate and there would be more water vapor in the air and more greenhouse heating of the planet. (This supposition completely ignored the cooling from clouds (made from atmospheric water vapor) and rain, but let's just stick with the basic premise, CO2 warming leading to more water vapor in the air). How's that been going based on real measurement and data?



The total water in the atmosphere, as measured by satellite since 1983, has declined from 2.5 to 2.25 cm. Both the relative and specific humidities (I won't pretend to know the difference between the two), as measured by weather balloon, etc. from 1948, have fallen and it is only near the surface where it has remained about the same. There has been no rise in humidity or water vapor in the air at all since CO2 was much, much closer to the pre-industrial average of 280 ppm. Now the CO2 is almost 390 ppm, a 40% increase and the expected extra water vapor has failed to show up, indeed the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has actually declined.

So, who's up for continuing to believe a theory that is, in very important ways, 0-3 vis a vis the real world of data and measurement?

(h/t The Hockey Schtick)


Thursday, February 24, 2011


Take 'Em to the Bank(sie) Oscar Picks

I have put the top choice in bold and the possible second choice, if there is one, in italics. Pretty easy year.

I dread the presentation this year although I admire the two hosts' work pretty much, for both, since their first TV shows, Freaks and Geeks for James Franco and Get Real for Ms. Hathaway (whose little brother on the short lived show, by the way, was Jesse Eisenberg--small world that LA region).

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids are All Right
The King's Speech Big, but not complete, sweep for this moving if too narrowly focused film
The Social Network
127 Hours
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right) But a long shot, I think
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan) Pretty much in the bag
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King's Speech) Absolutely in the bag
James Franco (127 Hours)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale (The Fighter) It's always a somewhat safe bet to mirror the SAGs
John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech) another long shot, he's already got one anyway

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Toughest category of the big 10
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) but she ought to win it, if this really was a pick of the best performance
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3 Good enough to have won best live action picture

Best Documentary Short Subject Like I have even the barest clue for these shorts
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Best Short Film (Animated)
Day & Night Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Let's Pollute Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) Bastien Dubois

Best Short Film (Live Action)
The Confession Tanel Toom
The Crush Michael Creagh
God of Love Luke Matheny
Na Wewe Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Achievement in Art Direction Again, I don't know and I don't actually care
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King's Speech
True Grit

Achievement in Cinematography If Inception doesn't win this, there's something wrong
Black Swan (Matthew Libatique)
Inception (Wally Pfister)
The King's Speech (Danny Cohen)
The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth)
True Grit (Roger Deakins)

Achievement in Costume Design Always go for the British period piece

Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)
I Am Love (Antonella Cannarozzi)
The King's Speech (Jenny Beaven)
The Tempest (Sandy Powell)
True Grit (Mary Zophres)

Achievement in Directing Safe bet to mirror the Director's Guild but not always right. Fincher could actually take it
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

Best Documentary Feature If the lie-a-minute Gasland wins it, I'm shooting the TV. I hope Banksie is there in the crowd on the top balcony secure in his anonymity and he sends some lackey (or the other guy in the movie) up to accept the award. I have apparently a rather shallow fantasy life
Exit through the Gift Shop Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)
Gasland Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)
Inside Job Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)
Restrepo Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)
Waste Land Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)

Achievement in Makeup I never know this one and I still don't actually care
Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Achievement in Film Editing I assume this is more than the film didn't fall to pieces the first time they showed it after editing
Black Swan (Andrew Weisblum)
The Fighter (Pamela Martin)
The King's Speech (Tariq Anwar)
127 Hours (Jon Harris)
The Social Network (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year I haven't seen any of these and I probably won't ever see any of them, not that I don't like foreign films
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Hors la Loi (Algeria)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) I kinda wish Mr. Reznor would win. I guess he could
How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
Inception (Hans Zimmer)
The King's Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from Country Strong Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from Tangled Music and Lyric by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 Music and Lyric by Randy Newman Might as well give it to Randy Newman; it is the same song he won for a few years back--in fact, he's been living off the same song for about his whole career, not that that's bad.

Achievement in Sound Editing What, actually, is the difference between these two sound related categories? Couldn't they just give one for Achievement in Sound?
Toy Story 3
TRON: Legacy
True Grit

Achievement in Sound Mixing
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Iron Man 2

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours (Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
Winter's Bone (Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini)

Original Screenplay
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
The Fighter (Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silverand Paul Tamasy)
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
The Kids are All Right (Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko)
The King's Speech (David Seidler)

Hope the show doesn't suck and they show plenty of clips.


Saturday, February 19, 2011


Warmies Think We Deniers Can't Google

One of the Warmie memes we, who are properly skeptical, find most galling is the claim that almost all weather phenomena support the AGW theory. There's a heat wave--Global Warming. There's record snowfall--Global Warming. There's a drought--Global Warming. There's a flood--Global Warming! Thus a scientific theory becomes irrefutable; becomes like a religion. Only admittedly inadequate computer models tell us what the weather will be in 89 years, but, for Warmies, nothing that happens in the meantime can refute the imperfect models, because all weather is proof of global climate change, indeed, of anthropogenic global warming.

One of the corollaries to all weather is proof of AGW is that AGW will cause wider and wilder swings in the range of weather events. AGW will cause ever more hot spells, ever more record snows, ever worse droughts and floods, ever more violent hurricanes. We've heard this for over a decade from nearly every Warmie, from the grotesque non scientist Gore to the scientists manning Warmie Central.

The good news, for us, is that the corollary just isn't true. There is no ever wilder weather since the CO2 started to climb. There are just the normal extremes, if that. Indeed, hurricanes are severely down in number and severity since An Inconvenient Truth said AGW would cause more and stronger hurricanes. Some Truth!

The best proof that the ever wilder weather claim is false is that now Warmie true believers, who mind being laughed at, are saying that they never claimed ever wilder weather would be a result of AGW. The trouble with that position is that we have easy access to prior statements on the internet.

Rather than tar someone with statements of another, let's just concentrate on one guy--Gavin Schmidt.

Here he is in February 2011:

There is no theory or result that indicates that climate change increases extremes in general.
But here he is in August, 201o:

DAN HARRIS: ...Well, scientists say you can't blame any one weather event on global warming. But these sorts of extreme weather events are getting more common and are predicted to get even more so. So we're looking at a planet potentially where the unusual becomes quite usual?

GAVIN SCHMIDT PHD (NASA): That's exactly right. The unusual heat waves, the unusual rainfall events will not be unusual in 10, 20, 30, 40 years' time.

Here he was in the NYT also in August, 2010:

If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. “If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.
How can you 'promise' to prove a heat wave was caused by AGW if there is no theory that AGW causes extremes like heat waves?

Here is Gavin Schmidt for ABC in March 2007:

The conclusions from theoretical studies, direct observations and models are all quite clear and show that these rising concentrations [of greenhouse gasses] have led to a warming of the planet over the last century. This warming can be seen in the weather station records, ocean temperatures, disappearing mountain glaciers, melting permafrost and retreating Arctic ice, and is beginning to be felt in the statistics of extreme events.(emphasis added).
When someone says something important that you know isn't true, why would you believe anything else that guy says?

UPDATE: Gore's explanation for how the recent huge snowstorms were predicted by Warmie scientist and are caused by AGW is refuted by the NOAA
(h/t Mark Morano)



Brave Sir Robin--The later part of the song is dedicated to the Wisconsin (and Texas) Democrat state legislators. All Brave Sir Robins


Friday, February 18, 2011


Warmie Science

I went to hear climate scientist Susan Solomon last night give a power point presentation on global warming. It was sponsored by the local Ivy League schools alumni chapters (including MIT and Stanford) and, as usual, the average age of the audience was about 70. I found the lecture to be well presented. The lecturer was not wild eyed apocalyptic and indeed did her best to deflate the worst case scenarios of a few questioners. She did not answer my question (How much of the CO2 in the atmosphere is natural and how much man made?) but I'm not angry because she pointed me to a different understanding, for which I'm grateful. Dr. Solomon was important in helping to create a climate of action to get rid of chlorofluorocarbons in our hair sprays, etc. which seems to have put the "Ozone Hole" on the road to recovery. Yeah! But she is a Warmie and believes the doubling of current CO2 concentration, by 2050, will lead to 3 degree C. warming, which in turn will effect rainfall patterns which will do damage to some and be a blessing to others.

She uses some of the perhaps unconscious Warmie tricks of presentation. Behold

See the graph starts at 160 ppm, not at 0 ppm so it looks a lot scarier than the graph that gives the whole story.

The graph which shows annual waxing and waning of CO2 on an ever growing up slope is what she used to redirect my question. Sure the yearly dump of CO2 into the atmosphere as the deciduous leaves in the Northern Hemisphere decay is natural but it is in balance with the Spring growth spurt which takes
up the CO2 the Fall decay put into the atmosphere. What's important is the gradual rise, which no sane person thinks is from anything but fossil fuel burning (at least mostly). See the straight up line in the Vostok CO2--the top graph? That's our contribution and that's what's important -- an unprecedented nearly instantaneous rise in CO2. I've often said the theory is logical. Here, however, is what she did not show.

The effect of CO2 in the atmosphere is asymptotic. The effect gets flatter and flatter (We all know this diminishing return from our lives. For example, when we put the first blanket on the bed on a cold night, the effect is immediate and substantial, but the second blanket, doubling the blanket concentration, has a much smaller effect and putting on two more blankets, doubling again, has almost no effect at all. We are not measurably warmer under 8 blankets than under 4. The warming from blankets is pretty much saturated by the second doubling, certainly by the third).

Here is an accurate graph of the last 2000 years of temperature, in the temperate zones, (as opposed to the Mann hockey stick nonsense for which Dr. Solomon must take some blame, as she at least allowed its inclusion in the IPCC report she helped author). Both the Roman Warm period and the Medieval Warm period (with CO2 at 270-280) were warmer than it is now. The climb of temperatures from 700 to 1000 is about the same as the climb from 1750 to 2000, but the earlier climb was when CO2 was the same as it had been for 600,000 years. What we've seen since 1750 is merely a return from very cold to more "normal" conditions and CO2 had little or nothing to do with most of that recovery.

The short version is that almost all scientists agree with the diminishing return and that slightly higher temperatures will produce more water vapor. We Deniers believe that at near saturation, CO2 doubling will have very little effect other than to put more cooling clouds in the sky. Dr. Solomon did nothing to cause me to doubt my doubting.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


So I Get Home from Work and...

There's this American Idol contestant in my TV room, singing and playing guitar with Charlie--Emma Henry, who comes up tonight for the second round.

I would have wished her luck but the thing has already happened.

UPDATE: A tough Queen song sends her home.



Scenes From a Wedding

Emily and Travis got married this past Saturday. I had some baby sitting duty but not much. Here are some of the photos

The Bride and a former nanny.

Here's Charlie holding Ethan, the Best Baby, both in their best clothes.

The dining room.

The Groomsmen.

Flower girl and some of the Bridesmaids.

The Happy Couple enter the Reception.

My children.

Austin and Katie who are to be married in April.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


News From the AGW Front

After years below 100, the 10.7 cm flux density of the sun has arched up to 113 (the number ranges from 64 to 268--the lower the number the quieter the sun), and the first X class solar flare since of the start of the new cycle is now raining down on us. I have no real idea what an X class solar flare is but it's noteworthy. The consistently revised downward predictions of cycle 24 sunspot numbers might not have to be revised down again. The more sunspots, the warmer it is here on Earth. Cycle 24 is now predicted to be low vis a vis the last several cycles, so the reliable sunspot number prediction says it will get colder yet.

The Northern Ocean sea ice is about a million square kilometers below the 1979-2008 "normal" average. So it's down about the size of Egypt, but more than two standard deviations below the purported baseline. Of the 14 distinct areas in the Arctic, however, only 4 are really seriously below average--three of them front the Northern Atlantic (St. Lawrence; Newfoundland/Baffin Island; and Greenland Sea). The other is the Sea of Okhotsk, south of Kamchatka for all you Risk fans.

But as we were chided when we Deniers noted the rapid recovery in sea ice area after the 2007 big melt, area only tells part of the story, the other component is sea ice thickness. Here's a chart of the ice thickness in Feb. 2008 compared to now, Feb. 2011. As you can see, the thickness is up substantially and thus the ice volume is up as well, over 25%. So the Warmies all decry the lack of four year ice (4 meters thick) and will until 2013, when the recovery from 2007 is five years old and there is much more four year/4 meter ice.

The predictors of an ice free Summer Arctic Ocean within a few years (or decades) are looking to sound ever more foolish.

I'm going to a Warmie lecture this Thursday. I'll report back.


Friday, February 11, 2011


More Faux Concerns for Polar Bears

Here is an article about predictions of the birth rates of polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay area (one of the few areas where scientists, but not the native Inuit, say populations are declining). Of course the predictions are dire and the whole fault is laid on anthropogenic global warming. Here is what the locals in Churchill say, but what the heck do they know? They merely live in the Western Hudson Bay area, they don't have degrees in biology. They're stupid. Warmie scientists in Universities elsewhere know better. I see I've digressed, so back to the subject at hand.

Here is a science popularizer with the NYT writing about the above article, poorly.

And here is a Denier jumping on the NYT guy for not knowing that polar bears hibernate during the winter.

But hold on there, kitty cat.

Male polar bears, and females who are not pregnant, don't hibernate, but stalk the frozen floes in search of tasty and nutritious ringed seals through the winter. The pregnant females dig a snow den in early October and don't come out until February or March. Wait, but the point of the original article was all about the effects of less ice on the western part of Hudson Bay on the litter sizes of pregnant polar bears, and, wait, pregnant females do, for all intents and purposes, hibernate, so who cares what the ice and the hunting is like during the winter when they are in a den and not on the ice hunting? This is confusing.

Want clarity? Here's the straight skinny.

Nothing kills a polar bear but men and other polar bears, but, like all predators, they are completely dependent on the prey species they hunt and eat. If there are too many polar bears for the available prey species to feed them all, (or there is a natural disruption in the weather so that the prey is inaccessible to a stable population), some of the bears, particularly the excess bears, starve to death. (As we saw on one episode of Planet Earth). Did the polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay area exceed the carrying limit for polar bears? How many bears were there before humans began hunting them or their prey? Do the bear populations fluctuate there naturally? Is the "early" break-up of the Hudson Bay ice in late Summer a naturally occurring pattern which the polar bears have faced and survived for millennia? Is there a natural boom and bust cycle for polar bears and ringed seals, just as there is a predator/prey cycle for lynx and snowshoe hares? No studies on those questions exist. They wouldn't fit the approved narrative.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011


President Obama and Movie Allusions

There was a time when some compared the president to the character in The Manchurian Candidate. I quite liked that movie, but still can't figure out why Lawrence Harvey is carrying a P-38 (or P-1) rather than a 1911A2. On further reflection, however, I think the more apt comparison is with Being There.

I know, I know, the President is a super genius and Chance, the Sellers character, is a functional idiot. Still, like with the gardener, people put their own aspirations onto Obama's blank slate and mistake his banalities for profundity.

Until I see some SATs or grades from Occidental, Columbia or Harvard, the President's IQ is 100. And I think I'm being more than fair there.

Jack Cashill at the American Thinker has similar thoughts independently. Great minds...


Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Sam Harris Tries Rhetoric

Here is Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape trying his hand at litotes, comic understatement:

While few scientists living in the West now fear torture or death at the hands of religious fanatics...
Few? How about none? Neither the wicked Catholics nor the knuckle dragging, southern, creationist, born again types have even tried to harm a scientist for his or her criticism of religion in over two centuries. maybe three. Few? You wanker. Christians are the favorite target of the atheist science type for ridicule. They can never be goaded to violence for mere criticism or even mockery. Kind of the antithesis of the Muslims.


Monday, February 07, 2011


Tales of the No Energy Economy

Here's yet another story about the government blowing millions on another loser technology. This one starts in the later part of the Bush Administration, but it's the same sad story. Behold:

To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush's Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery. A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million. In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers.

Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips.

The Soperton, Ga., ethanol plant is another blemish on ethanol's already tarnished image, but more broadly, it is cautionary tale about the elusive nature of "green jobs" and the folly of the government's efforts at "investing" -- as President Obama puts it -- in new technologies.

When we run out of fossil fuels, we'll always have hydrogen. Awful, difficult to store, expensive, weak tit hydrogen. But we'll have it. Till then, the sure bets are coal, natural gas and thorium and uranium. Everything else is hippie nonsense. Wasteful hippie nonsense.

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Right of Center Comics

h/t Big Lizards


Saturday, February 05, 2011


More Tales of the Monumentally Banal

Here's Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape:

Anyone who wants to understand the world should be open to new facts and new arguments, even on subjects where his or her views are very well established.
OK. Nice, but I've got one:

Victor Borge could really play the piano when he wanted to.
I'm pretty sure there is a good part to this book. I just haven't reached it yet.



Proverb of the Week

When you have food on the table, you have many problems; but when you have no food on the table, you only have one problem.


Thursday, February 03, 2011


The Constant Search

Here is the headline: Mexico supplies electricity to wintry Texas

And here is the story.

Here, I believe, is the real reason Texas has had rolling blackouts and the need to import power from Mexico.

Texas has the most wind generators of any state and when it gets really cold, the wind dies down. Oh, and the need for electricity goes up. Result: rolling blackouts and the need to import power from somewhere that isn't squandering its energy assets on unreliable, intermittent power.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Return of the Queen of Battle

For years and years now I have been critical of the M16 and it's progeny, including the M4 carbine, because the intermediate rifle round it used (.223 or NATO 5.56 mm) just didn't knock the bad guys down. Seems like the Army is catching up to my way of thinking. The brass is finally looking for a better weapon with, finally, better ballistics (read--knock down power).

Yeah, Army! Here are some results of testing years ago.

In 2007, the M4 fared worse than three other weapons—the Heckler & Koch HK416, the FN Herstal Mk16 Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle and the Heckler & Koch XM8—in comparative reliability testing conducted by the Army.

Wait, all of those use the 5.56. Boo, Army!

But wait again, there's another solution.

In Afghanistan, the Army has introduced the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, an upgraded version of the M14 rifle, which is chambered for a full-power rifle round that has a longer effective range than the M4 or M16.
Now you're talking. The Mk 14 Mod O Enhanced Battle Rifle is the action of the old M14 (a rifle I consider to be near perfection) placed in a new stock. It fires the full sized rifle bullet (NATO .308 or 7.62 mm), is selectively semi or full auto, and can reach out and touch people the M4 could merely harass.

And we have plenty of old M14s moldering away in armories--all it would cost really is the new stocks. How much could they be?

This could be the new queen of the infantry. Yeah, Army!

UPDATE: Well, darn it, we don't actually have plenty of old M14s. Although over 1.3 million were made, we foolishly destroyed more than half and sent another 400,000 overseas. Perhaps we have 130,000 left. Still, that's plenty for two per combat squad. A full auto, large caliber sniper weapon good out to half a mile. Absolutely badass. Who says things can't get better?



Tales of the Monumentally Banal

An atheist friend recommended Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape to me as a thought provoking and intellectually satisfying read. It's been a tough go getting started in it. Here is one of the reasons why. He writes:

Human experience shows every sign of being determined by, and realized in, states of the human brain.
Wow, the super genius IQ that produced that sentence is something to behold. I've got one:

Summer colds are the worst.
It is Mr. Harris's thesis that science can produce a code of ethics superior to that derived from God. He sneers:

Faith, if it is ever right about anything, is right by accident.
But in his quest to build a code of scientifically approved conduct, he can't help but slip in some a priori standards not derived from 'rational, open ended, honest inquiry,' but because he says so. Behold:

While it would be unethical to deprive young children of normal care for the purpose of experiment...
Really? Why? Wouldn't the greater good be served by rational, open ended honest inquiry into the relationship of our experiences as children to the superior, science derived ethics he is exploring? At the cost of a few rough weeks for some children? He's letting his emotions rule here, not scientific rigor.

I'm only to page 9. This could be a Herculean slog. The guy's a wanker, so far. I'll report back.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Using the Wrong Organ

It is interesting to compare writing. from both sides of the aisle, regarding Judge Vinson's recent opinion striking down as unconstitutional the whole of Obamacare. It gives a glimpse into how each political side thinks, if that's the right word. On the one hand is the estimable opinion of the Wall Street Journal. On the other hand are Ezra Klein, who, as is his wont, is silly and irrelevant and Jonathan Cohn, not a lawyer, who has nit-picky complaints but no cogent legal counter argument.

Then there is Jennifer Rubin, who doesn't talk so much about the case as about the non-lawyers on the left reacting thereto. She says, with a lot of justification, that the left was not prepared for the ruling.

Venting one's spleen is not using the old noggin'.

The ruling is sound and not unexpected. The individual mandate is indeed not severable from the rest of the act and the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate will be upheld in the Supreme Court. Can't say that holding the whole thing void will be upheld, although it should. The Dems gambled with not including the normal Severability Clause and may pay the price.


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