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- A Much-Needed Reminder Regarding Politics and Chri...
- The Ice Age Cometh
- One Final Nail in the Coffin of the Global Warming...
- Speaking Truth to Power Tool Operators
- A Voice is Heard in Ramah
- Gay Hidden Agenda Comes Forth
- Best News I've Heard All Week
- It Takes a Thief...
- Defending the Family
- Economics Takes a Backseat
- ▼ Oct 2008 (10)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Last night, London experienced its first October snow in 30+ years, and its first snow cover since 1934. Wonder how many years before the politicians and celebrities catch up? Hollywood is always about three decades behind the curve, so maybe by 2035 someone will make a movie about the beginning of global cooling... right about the time we'll all be wishing that the global warm-mongers had been right.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This week, Lorne Gunter from the National Post wrote a short but very insightful piece on the fact that global warming as we know it is done and we are highly likely in for 30 years of cooling (which is a significantly more dangerous threat than warming ever was to humanity).
In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.As always, truth wins out in the end.
Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.
On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs -- El Ninos -- produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones -- La Ninas -- produce below average ones.
Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as "solar minimums" magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded -- none -- and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.
Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."
An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming is junk science," explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number."
Other international scientists have called the manmade warming theory a "hoax," a "fraud" and simply "not credible."
While not stooping to such name-calling, weather-satellite scientists David Douglass of the University of Rochester and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville nonetheless dealt the True Believers a devastating blow last month.
For nearly 30 years, Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, "variations in global temperatures since 1978 ... cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide."
Moreover, while the chart below was not produced by Douglass and Christy, it was produced using their data and it clearly shows that in the past four years -- the period corresponding to reduced solar activity -- all of the rise in global temperatures since 1979 has disappeared.
It may be that more global warming doubters are surfacing because there just isn't any global warming.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Mark Steyn's piece in the OC Register is especially witty today.
There was His Serene Majesty President-designate Barack the Healer, working the crowd at some or other hick burg, and halfway down the rope up pops a plumber to express misgivings about the incoming regime's tax plans.
Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 percent of the American people will get a tax cut. You'd think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than 6-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you're wondering why Obama didn't simply announce that under his plan 112 percent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they'd really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 percent it is.
Anyway, our Fact Check Unit ran the numbers on the Obama tax-cut plan and the number is correct: "95." It's the words "percent" immediately following that are wrong: that's a typing error accidentally left in from the first draft. It should read: Under the Obama plan, 95 of the American people will get a tax cut.
Joe the Plumber expressed his misgivings about the President-in-waiting's tax inclinations, and the O-Man smoothly reassured him: "It's not that I want to punish your success," he told the bloated plutocrat corporate toilet executive. "I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
In that sentence about you spreading the wealth around, there's another typing error: that "you" should read "I, Barack." "You" will have no say in it. Joe the Plumber might think he himself can spread it around just fine, but everyone knows "trickle-down economics" don't work. So President-presumptive Obama kindly explained the new exquisitely condescending "talking-down economics." Put that in your pipe and solder it.
Evidently the O-Mighty One was not happy after his encounter with Joe. He's still willing to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions. But never again will he talk to Joe the Plumber without preconditions. Outraged at the way the right-wing whackos were talking up Joe the Plumber as if he were an authentic regular Joe, like Joe Biden, the O-Bots of the media swung into action. Vast regiments of investigate reporters were redeployed from the Wasilla Holiday Inn back to the Lower 48.
"We need you down here checking out this Joe the Plumber," editors barked to journalists.
"But I'm this close to wrapping up the Wasilla Town Library banned-book investigation!"
"Forget it! The Atlantic Monthly is claiming Joe the Plumber is Trig's real father... Look, you went to Columbia School of Journalism. This is what we bold, courageous journalists do. We're the conscience of the nation. We speak truth to plumber."
"Er, shouldn't that be 'Speak truth to power'?"
"That's the old edition of the handbook. Now we speak truth to power-tool operators. Joe the Carpenter, Joe the Plasterer, Joe the Electrician … . When you're building utopia, you don't want any builders getting in the way."
Alas, as a result of this massive investment of journalistic resources, no investigative reporter will be free to investigate ACORN voter-registration fraud or Obama's ties to terrorist educator William Ayers until, oh, midway through his second term at least.
Under the headline "Is 'Joe The Plumber' A Plumber? That's Debatable," John Seewer of the Associated Press triumphantly revealed that Joe is not a "licensed" plumber. In fact, he doesn't need to be licensed for the residential plumbing he does, but isn't that just typical of Bush-McCain insane out-of-control deregulation? It wouldn't surprise me to discover that most of these subprime homeowners got Joe in to plumb their subprime bathrooms. Next thing you know, the entire global economy goes down the toilet. Coincidence?
Joe is now the most notorious plumber in American politics since the Watergate plumbers. And they weren't licensed, either. It turns out Joe doesn't even make 250 grand, and it's only the $250,000-a-year types who'll be paying more (please, no tittering) under Good King Barack. Joe Biden – that's Joe the Blue-collar Senator – said that he didn't know any $250,000 plumbers in his neighborhood, or even in the first-class club car on Amtrak he rides every night to demonstrate his blue-collar bona fides. On "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer emphasized this point, anxious to give the apostate plumber one last chance to go with the flow:
"Well, I just want to ask you now about the issue that was raised, because it's been a little confusing to me as I try to sort it out here. To get straight here, you're not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?"
"No. No. Not even close," confessed Joe.
So what's he got to be worried about?
The heart of the American Dream is aspiration. That's why people came here from all over the world. Back in Eastern Europe, the Joe Bidens and Diane Sawyers of the day were telling Joe the Peasant: "Hey, look, man. You're a peasant in the 19th century, just like your forebears were peasants in the 12th century and your descendants will be peasants in the 26th century. So you're never gonna be earning 250 groats a year. Don't worry about it. Leave it to us. We know better." And Joe the Peasant eventually figured that one day he'd like to be able to afford the Premium Gruel with just a hint of arugula and got on the boat to Ellis Island. Because America is the land where a guy who doesn't have a 250-grand business today might just have one in five or 10 years' time.
I'm with Joe the Plumber, not Joe the Hair-Plugger. He's articulated the animating principles of America better than anyone on either side in this campaign. Which is why the O-Bots need to destroy him. As Obama's catchphrase goes:
"Joe the Plumber!
Can we fix him?
Joe the Plumber!
Yes, we can!"
For the record, I am not a government-licensed pundit. But I expect they'll fix that, too.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Right on the heels of Tony Perkins' video on the Connecticut proposition comes this disturbing news item.
A public school in San Francisco bused 18 first-graders to City Hall yesterday, so the youngsters could scatter rose petals in celebration of their lesbian teacher's wedding.I wonder if they ever went on a field trip to a heterosexual wedding.
The students, from Creative Arts Charter School, waited on the steps for their teacher with bags of pink rose petals, bottles of bubbles and, at least for some, with political buttons asking Californians to vote down Proposition 8, a ballot measure that seeks to define marriage in the state as a union between one man and one woman.
"She's a really nice teacher. She's the best," 6-year-old Chava Novogrodsky-Godt told the San Francisco Chronicle, wearing a "No on 8" button on her shirt. "I want her to have a good wedding."
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Dr. Dalrymple discussed the financial crisis this week, taking the opportunity to examine what it indicates about Western culture at large. As usual, his unique insight incites (how's that for a use of homophones) much thought and introspection.
Canvassing the opinion of friends and acquaintances as to the meaning of all this financial turmoil, I began to feel like a share in one of those vulnerable companies that would seesaw wildly in value on the stock exchange, according to the latest rumour, the day before it either collapsed completely or was rescued by one expedient or another. Some would say that the crisis was at most an epiphenomenon [secondary complication], and that the real economy, the one that baked bread and made nuts and bolts, would continue unaffected. Others would say that this was the beginning of the end, that we should all spend the rest of our lives struggling to make ends meet, eking out a bare subsistence, and that we should never feel secure and prosperous again.As a side note, Dalrymple's new book just came out. Needless to say, I already have it in hand. :)
By no means a financial wizard – my love affair with money has thus far remained unrequited – I could not help thinking that the episode, whether it prove fleeting or of limited duration and minor consequence, was not without an important cultural dimension. Everything that happens tells us something about the way we live now, even when what happens is not entirely without precedent...
Of course, one’s assessment of the cultural significance of events depends upon one’s understanding, whether true or false, of their causation. Therefore, in what follows, I am depending upon my no doubt somewhat schematic understanding of the turmoil on the Anglo-American markets. It is therefore only right that I should state what my understanding is, before launching out on my main observations. If my understanding is fundamentally wrong, then my other observations are null and void.
Large quantities of money result in easy credit, and easy credit inflates the value of assets such as houses. This in turn means that houses, whose prices appear to be rising effortlessly like a good souffle, become collateral to loans to people who would otherwise not merit loans.
The banks and mortgage companies, whose business, after all, is lending money, did not enquire too closely into the biographical record of their borrowers. Indeed, those who sold mortgages often had little connection to those who lent the money: rising prices would take care of any risk inherent in ignorance or fraud.
Now pyramid schemes of this nature work splendidly for a time, and those who get out before the denouement, or manage to extract enough from them before they collapse, make a fortune. That, of course, is why they recur through history: many lose in the end, but a few gain, and gain astronomically, in the meantime. Mankind is a herd to be fleeced, and luckily the wool always grows back.
Let us now consider some of the cultural implications of what has happened. A few words seem to sum it up: improvidence [lack of foresight] and lack of probity [honesty]. But whose, exactly, and in what proportion and with what implications?
The butcher and the baker, upon whose benevolence Adam Smith famously told us that we do not rely for the quality of our meat and bread, are kept in line by the evident and close connection between how they conduct themselves and the profit that they make. In other words, their self-interest guarantees their providence and probity; assuming they have no natural or unnatural monopoly, they would go out of business very quickly if they passed off measly pork and adulterated bread as the finest that money could supply.
But the connection between such virtues as providence and probity on the one hand, and reward on the other, is - it must be confessed - somewhat attenuated in the modern world of capitalism. There are so many steps between raw material and final product, or between the initiator of a productive process and the final consumer of whatever it is that is produced, that there is plenty of opportunity for the vices corresponding to providence and probity to operate and flourish, at least long enough for those who display them to line their nest with feathers of gold. This makes providence and probity all the more desirable, of course.
I don’t think there is much doubt that the banks, in my own country at any rate, have been improvident and lacking in probity. If I may descend for a moment from abstraction to anecdote, I will recount my experiences with my own bank over the years that illustrate a change not just in its attitude to credit, but in our culture.
Shortly after I opened an account there, forty years ago, I received a letter from the manager drawing my attention with some asperity to the fact that my account was almost $5 dollars overdrawn, and that he trusted that I would soon rectify the situation by the end of the week. Forty years later, when I was again overdrawn, I received a telephone call from the manager – the bank’s motto being ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ – asking to see me. Indeed, the manager said he would come to my house.
Gosh, I thought, now I’m in trouble. When he arrived, I told him that I was about to pay the amount by which I was overdrawn into my account. He looked extremely crestfallen.
‘You mean you don’t want to borrow more?’ he said. ‘I’ve come here to offer you more.’ A wasted journey, obviously.
A short time later, I went to my bank to borrow money to buy a house while I sold another. Within five minutes I was offered a sum the like of which I had never previously handled, and in excess of anything I needed. While it was smaller than my total nominal assets, as I enumerated them, the bank made absolutely no effort to verify that I was indeed the owner of these assets.
With a large loan outstanding, I continued to receive, about every month or so, offers of a further loan of $50,000, no questions asked and mine for the borrowing by mere telephone call, just in case there were any little extras or extravagances I happened to feel like treating myself to (but apply now, before next month’s offer of precisely the same thing!). The principal example given of the little extras or extravagances to which I might want to treat myself was the holiday of a lifetime.
Two considerations led me to turn down all these kind offers. The first is that my taste in holidays of a lifetime runs more to observing civil wars than to lolling in the lap of luxury, and while sometimes expensive to go to, civil wars offer little in the way of sybaritic possibilities (though there was a surprising availability of pink champagne during the Liberian civil war, even if it was difficult to chill).
The second consideration was the faintly puritanical belief, no doubt the psychological consequence of having been born only a few years after the end of the Second World War, that if one could not afford to pay cash on the nail for the holiday of a lifetime, one could not afford the holiday of a lifetime. One did not go deeply into debt for the sake of evanescent [fleeting] pleasures...
Even allowing for the change in my personal circumstances over the forty years, the irresponsibility of the bank (and other financial institutions) seemed to me – if one absented a knowledge of history, that is - astonishing. There is no doubt, however, that many people, in fact many millions of people, listened to the siren song of easy credit, of fritter now, pay later.
The interesting question for me, then, is not that of the foolishness or dishonesty of the financial institutions, but that of the population. At what point did the population come to believe that it was possible (to cite the advertising slogan of a new credit card launched in Britain in the 1970s) to ‘take the waiting out of wanting’?
Let us try to imagine what it is to be a sub-prime borrower, or indeed a borrower of any kind who over-extends himself and goes into debt for trifles light as air, for the procuring of what will predictably bring him no more than a few moments’ satisfaction, soon to be followed by a further fevered search for a few more moments’ satisfaction.
When I sought my large loan from the bank, I – who have by no means maximised my economic opportunities throughout my life, or behaved with squirrel-like wisdom and foresight, believing in my twenties, for example, that I would never survive to my present great age - considered such matters as to whether, in the event of not selling my other house, I should still be able to service my debt; whether I could find other means of paying the loan back; what happened if interest rates rose and my income fell; etc., etc. These did not seem to me to be terribly difficult thoughts, indeed they seemed rather obvious ones, almost coterminous with the decision to seek the loan, and certainly with the signing of the agreement. Yet it now appears that millions of people, in my own country and elsewhere, have not thought such thoughts, and this is really rather depressing. I suppose they thought they were getting something for nothing; the more sophisticated among them probably realised that, since they had no assets to speak of, they had nothing to lose. But I am not sure that mass lack of probity is much better than mass lack of providence (the question would make an interesting one for a student term paper).
Be that as it may, all these people are voters, who have the future direction of their country in their hands, at least in so far as a choice between candidates for office makes any difference to the direction their country takes. The future, it seems, depends upon the dishonest and the improvident. This is not altogether reassuring, at least in the abstract, until one considers the behaviour of the class from whom the candidates usually emerge. It takes a thief to elect a thief; and in the imperfect sublunary world, perhaps that is the best to which we can aspire. At any rate, I prefer it to the unrestricted reign of honest men.