Wednesday, March 28, 2007

‘Privacy’ run amok.

There was a report on WCCO this evening about a number of children suspended from school for misbehavior on a St. Paul school bus. These children ranged from K through 6th grade. Their offenses included, but were not limited to, verbal obscenity, physical assault on other children, and general rowdiness. Suspensions ranged from 1 to 10 days, but the kicker is that parents were not allowed to view the video due to “privacy concerns.”

Pardon me, but that seems rather silly. What expectation of privacy exists among school children on a public school bus going to or from a public school? I don’t have any standing to take action in this situation, but if my child were the victim of one of these little ruffians I’d think I'd have a right to know what has been done to take control of the situation, and that means knowing what was done to the thug-in-training who was tormenting my kid.

If school districts want to be trusted, they have to be open about what’s going on and what’s being done.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wishes and Wonderment

Mrs. John Edwards, The wife of the Presidential candidate, has announced that her cancer is in resurgence and has manifested in her bones. This is a cause for sadness; it’s a story that strikes close to my own family history and I send her every best wish for her health.

What does strike me as possibly unsavory is her husband’s desire to continue the long, arduous campaign for the Presidency. John Edwards is both an underdog and a very wealthy person; it’s not like he ‘needs the job’ or is anywhere close to becoming his party’s nominee. In such circumstances I would abandon the pursuit of power and concentrate on my terminally ill spouse.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Deplore Gore

Three more scientists have looked at the ‘global warming’ gospel put forth by Al Gore and the Church of Global Warming – Evangelical (CGW-E) and found it wanting. A short article is here on the findings of Professors Bjarne Andresen (University of Copenhagen) Christopher Essex (University of Western Ontario) and Ross McKitrick (the University of Guelph, Canada).

A Danish scientist said the idea of a "global temperature" and global warming is more political than scientific

"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth," said Andresen, an expert on thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

Look to the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics for more (…if you can find a copy…).

HT: Truth vs. The Machine

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bus Stop

Minneapolis has a murder problem right now; the city is on track to achieve 65 such crimes this year. That includes the recent bus murders, something we haven’t seen since 2001.

MNblue is, as the name implies, a Minnesota Democrat blog, and contributor Grace Kelly is quick to find a silver lining from a WCCO report on the most recent bus incident:

Kudos go to WCCO Ten O'Clock news for asking the really important question, something like "Is this an indication of greater crime rise on the bus systems or a unique incident?" The answer was that crime on buses was down 7% last year. And that the metro system just put on 4 more people to make the bus systems safer. So this is probably a unique incident and now the bus systems will be safer than ever. A salute to WCCO news.

Um, pardon me, but isn’t this a bit Pollyannish? Total bus crime was down last year, but we’re seen a resurgence of murders this year, and this is good? Statistical comparisons are fine provided you avoid a narrow focus that prevents you from seeing the whole picture. The recent bus violence may prove to be a unique blip. But given the backdrop of a surging violence in Minneapolis last year and this, I’d be wary of finding solace in such a telescopic analysis.

You can ‘Search’ for and view WCCO’s “Deadly violence on bus” video here.

By the way, the eclectic blog O So Minnesota does a good job keeping up with the Twin Cities crime scene.

A very inconvenient couple of weeks for Al Gore and the CGW-E

It will take multiple posts, and out of intended order, to bring into focus what has been rolling out recently about man-caused global warming theories championed by Al Gore and the Church of Global Warming – Evangelical (CGW-E). Body blow after body blow has been letting the gas out their arguments, or at least calling into question the veracity of their proponents.

Let’s start with Tuesday’s New York Times. I would have liked to save this for a later time but I’m not sure how long the link will last for those without the proper subscription. But the short of it is that the NYT story is calling for a bit of a ‘time out’ in an item titled “From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

Read it. Scientist after scientist is quoted on their skepticism of the Gore/CGW-E doctrine. I’m tempted to reproduce the whole article but perhaps I can whet your appetite with a few snippets:
“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

…“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

…[Dr. Easterbrook]…flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”
To be sure, NYT plays favorites. They do their best from the outset to defend the Gore/CGW-E hypothesis. For example:
Getting personal, [Dr. Easterbrook] mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”
Excuse, me, but it seems that it’s Gore “getting personal” by claiming that CGW-E opponents are “corrupted.” Defense of honor against slander is not “getting personal,” it’s setting the record straight against a calculated lie.

But even for all its defenses of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the fact that the NYT felt it had to print this story quoting the scientists it does is an inconvenient blow for Gore.

And we’re just getting started.

Read it. Read it now!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A long winded post about hot air

With Minneapolis thinking about banning circuses, wither shall the ‘three rings’ go? Not to worry! The new DFL-led Minnesota Legislature has pre-empted any venue concerns. A few weeks ago they played host to their own dog-and-pony show on global warming. Eight committees from the two chambers got together and heard from a pre-selected slate of activists in an effort to “reinforce those who worry about global warming and…convince skeptics that it's occurring.”

Senator Jungbauer objected to the one-sided presentation, which has brought derision from the Left side of the state blogosphere. Calling him ‘dimwitted,’ MNpublius took Mr. Jungbauer greatly to task:

…here’s the section where Jungbauer really showcases his alienation from reality:

It’s evident that scientists who are proponents of global warming are well represented; however, no one from the opposing side is on the agenda. When a large group of policy makers are assembled for a conversation on an issue such as climate change where the science, contrary to perception has not been decided and new research is released all the time, it is important that all sides are part of the debate.
What Senator Jungbauer doesn’t seem to understand is that there is no other side! If one goes through the back-log of peer-reviewed, published scientific studies one will not find a single report that refutes the idea of Global Warming. Dissent exists on the degree and the possible solutions, but not the phenomenon. Please, for the sake of humanity, research the topic Senator Jungbauer.

He’s not the only one. “The Voice of Greater Minnesota” also displayed similar juvenile aplomb, but with a heavier hand:
It is a sad day for the state of Minnesota when we have to realize that one of the people elected to represent us and create policy for our state is nothing more than a babbling idiot. State Senator Mike Jungbauer is that idiot! He has sent out an email to his senate co workers complaining that for an upcoming hearing on global warming that [sic] no witnesses are being called that disbeleive [sic] in global warming…

The problem is that there are no legitimate sides to the debate. There has been no credable [sic] research demonstrating that global warming does not exist. The only people don't believe in global warming are those with either a vested interest in destroying the plannet [sic] or people or people [sic] that are too stupid to realize what is going on.

I'm sure this post sounds quite harsh, but I'm ok with that. It is becoming more and more urgent by the day that we act on this issue. So i [sic] think we need to call these people what they are. [sic] A bunch of idiots who are in the same boat as Hallocaust [sic] denyers [sic] and other fringe deviants.

There is much wrong with above responses and it will take some time to sort it all out. But let us start with their non-sequitorial nature. Discussion of scientific topics does not lend itself well to the kind of sand-box tantrums displayed here. Mr. Jungbauer’s objection to the stacked presentation is responded to not with science, but with righteous zealotry. Voice’s idea of action is ad hominem, to “call these people what they are,” not actually examine what they’re saying. When you have to justify your ‘science’ with taunts, do you really have ‘science’ on your side?

Part of the problem is that the two blogsters above are mixing issues in an effort to stifle actual debate. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute presents an excellent break-down of the ‘global warming’ evangelist’s gospel:
1 – The Earth is warming.
2 – The warming is unprecedented.
3 – Man is largely responsible for the current warming.
4 – The current warming will be catastrophic.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 are individually predicated on the part that immediately precedes it, but believing in part 1, 2, or 3 does not require ‘buy-in’ to any which follow it. The Church of Global Warming – Evangelical (CGW-E) plies its rhetoric on the assumption that if you buy into part 1, the rest generally follow like dominoes, and if you don’t buy into 2, 3, and/or 4, you’re a ‘denier’ of some sort.

But for now, let us be clear: contrary to the implications made by MNpublius and Voice, the Legislative presentation was made solely by those who adhere to parts 2 and 3 above, and most likely 4 if I’ve read Mr. Stieger’s prior reflections on the issue correctly. The sermon was delivered without contradiction, justifying Senator Jungbauer’s original concern. Which means it wasn’t a scientific examination at all, but a pep rally.

Truth be told, and contrary to the views of many, yes, there are other sides to the CGW-E ‘gospel.’ I hope to examine them more closely in the coming days.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The envelope, please...

Typical media question of the week: “Mr. Libby, are you willing to go to jail to protect Vice President Cheney?” - MSNBC's David Schuster

Pithy observation of the week: Courtesy of Truth vs. The Machine...

It’s difficult to “coexist” when the crescent is in full-on ”Pacman” mode…

Friday, March 09, 2007

"Calling occupants of interplanetary craft..."

Ok, this is good

OTTAWA (AFP) - A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.

"I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet," Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

Where does one begin? It may be easy to laugh this off as extreme or looney but it really isn’t too far a stones throw from some of the poorly designed, yet widely pedaled, climate models that predict catastrophic global warming caused by human activity. That segment of the discussion has attained a religious zealotry that tends toward unbounded rhetoric; Al Gore calls the need for action a “moral necessity,” not a scientific one. Once someone like Al Gore crosses that line, it won’t be long before doubters are treated as infidels standing in the way of the righteous Jihad.

Someone’s figured out their post-Katrina Lessons

One thing that should have been learned is that it’s folly to depend on others as your plan for dealing with set-backs. Given the full-force political finger-pointing at FEMA after Katrina one could not be blamed for thinking that FEMA rescue was New Orleans’s plan. Of course they’re own preparedness documentation spelled out the fact that the city would be ‘on its own’ for up to five days.

Now, this is not to absolve FEMA of all incompetence, but to point out that placing reliance on giant, far-away bureaucracies is not a very good idea. In a word, don’t. Sometimes they’ll do well, sometimes they won’t, and it doesn’t matter who is in office.

Which makes this story interesting. Mansfield University is creating a hazard mitigation plan with the idea “…to be prepared for three to five days of being alone and handling it yourself…” in case of a major flood, a real risk in that geographical area.

Bingo. This should be the first lesson learned from Katrina. Making FEMA a faster responder is at best second or third on the list.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Abortion nominee for the GOP?

There’s a great deal of back-and-forth discussion on what’s become known as the ‘Rudy Deal.’ The idea is that pro-life Republicans will back abortion advocate GOP Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani if he promises to nominate judges like Alito and Roberts.

From the ‘not-a-good-deal’ side comes this cogent essay in the National Catholic Register. You don’t have to agree with the points but it’s well written. Some significant cullings…

But what dooms the deal from the start is the fact that it totally misunderstands what pro-lifers care about in the first place.

…When they ask [pro-lifers] to “be reasonable” and go along with a pro-abortion leader, they assume that there is something unreasonable about the pro-life position to start with.

We’re sorry, but we don’t see what is so unreasonable about the right to life...What looks supremely unreasonable to us is that we should trust a leader who not doesn’t only reject the right to life but even supports partial-birth abortion, which is more infanticide than abortion.

…The power a president exerts over his party’s character is nearly absolute. The party is changed in his image. He picks those who run it and, both directly and indirectly, those who enter it.

…Parents know that, when we make significant exceptions to significant rules, those exceptions themselves become iron-clad rules to our children. It’s the same in a political party. A Republican Party led by Rudy Giuliani would be a party of contempt for the pro-life position, which is to say, contempt for the fundamental right on which all others depend.

This is a lively debate that’s going on inside the GOP right now, and a very substantive one at that, respectfully conducted. One reason I feel any hope for the GOP is that, in general, Republicans still believe that there are such things as ‘right and wrong’ as well as ‘good and evil’ and that government actions and policy can place us on one side or the other, regardless of intentions. The GOP is more likely to stand on principle and pursue an ideal rather than place a finger in the wind or ‘poll-watch’ in an effort to chase political victory.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the proper use of 'intellegence'

I’ve spent more time on news in the aftermath of the Libby trial than I have for some time. In plowing through the blizzard I found this gem from former Naval Intelligence officer J. E. Dyer:

The long, strategically unvarying years of the Cold War left an erroneous connection in our collective consciousness, of “intelligence” with the formation of national strategy. But intelligence can only serve, not direct, the elements that go into strategic decisions. Which nations are bad, which actions are bad, which actions constitute threats, what distinguishes a casus belli from a mere irritant — these factors are not determined by intelligence. Political will must identify them first, and decide what response we will take. Then, and only then, can intelligence perform its function. It was not “intelligence,” at the inception of the Cold War, that drove US policy — it was publicly available information and political will.

The current administration’s real tactical error, in my view, was placing too much emphasis on re-proving individual intelligence data points that the CIA decided to disqualify. Proof of Saddam’s long-standing connection with Al Qaeda — not an operational role in 9/11, but a long relationship between his intelligence service and AQ — did not hang on the “meeting in Prague” data point, for example. Nor did the long-term assessment of Saddam’s WMD program, by all the world’s major intelligence agencies, stand or fall on the “Niger” report.

…And the people are left confused and unrequited. It’s interesting to note that if an intel analyst dropping in from Mars judged solely by what we have found in Iraq since the invasion, with no prior information from the 1980s or 1990s, he would assess that Saddam indeed had a WMD program at the time he was regime-changed. Yet the focus on single data points and “intelligence failure” rumbles on. This focus is surreal. The Bush strategy represented a shift of political will in a threat environment on which intelligence had not changed — it was not about “intelligence” at all.

Mr. Dyer is amplifying a point in an article by Gabriel Schoenfeld of Commentary magazine, which I might comment on myself later.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?