Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Freedom of Press is limited to those who own one - H.L. Mencken

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Air Up There
by Lee

Let’s hear it for science!

Large amounts of ozone – around 50 percent more than predicted by the world’s state-of-the-art climate models – are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Published today (26th June ‘08) in the scientific journal, Nature, this startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds. It has particular significance because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane.

Wow, you mean climate models can be wrong?  Perhaps then we shouldn’t, y’know, create global hysteria about the end of the world based on them.

Professor John Plane, University of Leeds said: “This study provides a sharp reminder that to understand how the atmosphere really works, measurement and experiment are irreplaceable. The production of iodine and bromine mid-ocean implies that destruction of ozone over the oceans could be global.”

So what the professor is saying is that they really don’t completely understand how the atmosphere works, and that things might actually be much better than what the current thinking suggests.

Posted by Lee on 06/30/08 at 09:34 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

He’s Teh Ghey
by Lee

This is what happens when you have an irrational fear of homos.

The American Family Association has a policy at its new outlet, OneNewsNow, never to use the word “gay” but to replace it with “homosexual.” And that works absolutely perfectly until they write an article about an athlete whose last name is Gay, as in Tyson Gay, the fastest man on the US Olympic track team.

Here’s the result.

Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.
His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn’t count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here’s what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he’s certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

“It means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old Homosexual said. “I’m glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.”

After the race, Homosexual and Dix looked at each other and slapped palms, then hugged.

Hey, if a Homosexual can get along with a Dix, anything is possible.

(Hat tip: Reason.)

Posted by Lee on 06/30/08 at 06:42 PM in Right Wing Assholes  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Scientist 1, Nutjobs 0

Talk about a battle of wits with unarmed individuals, via The Best Magazine In The World:

Ars Technica describes the sorry effort by denizens at Conservapedia, the self-described “encyclopedia written from a conservative point of view,” to attack the research of Michigan State biologist Richard Lenski and colleagues. Lenski grew thousands of generations of E. coli that normally live off of glucose. More than 30,000 generations later some developed the capacity to metabolize citrate. However, according to the savants over at Conservapedia this couldn’t occur. Ars Technica explains what happened next:

Clearly, Lenski’s bacteria appear to have evolved a significant new capacity. Fortunately, the residents of Conservapedia found a way out of this logical conundrum: Lenski was either misinterpreting his data, or he faked it. In an open letter to Lenski, Conservapedia’s Andy Schlafly (an attorney with an engineering background) wrote, “skepticism has been expressed on Conservapedia about your claims, and the significance of your claims, that E. Coli [sic] bacteria had an evolutionary beneficial mutation in your study.” Their solution? Show them the data: “Please post the data supporting your remarkable claims so that we can review it, and note where in the data you find justification for your conclusions.”

Lenski replied, noting that the whole purpose of scientific paper is to discuss and display data and to use them to justify conclusions; the data were in the paper itself. He also pointed out he’d placed a copy of the paper on his website for those without subscriptions to PNAS. Lenski also spent some time reexplaining some of his conclusions, and pointing out errors and misconceptions in the letter he had received. This response prompted a second letter from Schlafly, suggesting he wanted to review the data underlying the data presented in the paper, and noting that the work is taxpayer funded, giving him a right to it as a taxpayer.

From here on out, standard Internet drama ensued. By the time of his next reply, Lenski had apparently read the discussion pages attached to the letters, and discovered that Schlafly hadn’t actually bothered to read the paper he was demanding the data for. He has also discovered that some Conservapedia members were simply calling the whole thing a hoax, and accusing him of having engaged in research fraud. As a result, Lenski was apparently very annoyed, and his second letter is far more assertive.

Lenski again notes that the paper actually contained the relevant data, and that Schlafly’s complaints suggested he wouldn’t know what to do with any further data were Lenski to provide it to him.

To their credit, some Conservapediaists backed up Lenski. Ideological purity being more important than scientific accuracy, the dissenters have evidently had their accounts blocked.

When you want an echo chamber, those who won’t echo back can be a bit of a problem.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 06/30/08 at 04:34 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The General Stepped In It At Dawn

Obama responds:

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Monday he will never question others’ patriotism during the race and blames his own “carelessness” for some criticism of him so far. Obama sought to reassure voters about his commitment to the country, choosing the aptly named town of Independence as his backdrop.
....

“I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged — at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for,” he said before a crowd of a few hundred people at the Truman Memorial Building here. “I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.”
....

Obama said that patriotism “must, if it is to mean anything, involve the willingness to sacrifice” and sought to distance himself from Clark’s remarks without mentioning them.

“For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country — no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary,” Obama said. “And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.”

I think Obama is at heart a decent guy. There have been scumbags in both campaigns. This gives Obama the opportunity to get rid of those in his.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 06/30/08 at 04:11 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Mitt’s Millions

Would picking Mitt Romney as Veep really help McCain? Maybe not:

One thing I’m genuinely unclear on: If, as expected, McCain stays within the public financing system for the general election, how useful is the money Romney raises? Allen says Team McCain is likely to announce its veep choice shortly after Obama announces his, presumably in early August. Under the public financing rules, that would leave the McCain-Romney ticket about a month to spend any money it raises, which means Romney’s ability to raise $50-$60 million in 60 days wouldn’t necessarily be that helpful. Is it possible that McCain would follow Obama in opting out if Romney joins the ticket? (That would also free Romney to spend his personal wealth, no?*) Or would the money raised after the GOP convention just go to the RNC? Or would Romney start raising the money even before he was officially announced?

If McCain is Veep shopping just for someone to help him raise campaign cash, then it’s a bad idea. McCain could do better. But it shows how constrained McCain is by his own legislation. He might get blasted as a hypocrite, but following Obama’s lead and opting out may be the smart thing to do. One of the good things about this race could be the death of campaign finance reform, and it would be OK for McCain to say he was wrong on this issue.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 06/30/08 at 03:59 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Another One Bites The Dust

Barack “Frank Nitty” Obama whacks another one off the list. Bottom of bus...Meet Clark!

Obama will talk about McCain’s military record in his noon speech on “patriotism” in Independence, MO—and contradict Wes Clark, without naming him.

Obama has frequently spoken of McCain’s military record, but the campaign is making a point of it today in light of Clark’s comments on Face the Nation (and similar remarks in recent weeks on Morning Joe) that “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president”.
Earlier today, on Morning Joe, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs distanced the campaign from Gen. Clark’s remarks.

Well, as we can see, change now encompasses taking a page from the hillary campaign where you get a patsy to shout your slurs for you. I can’t wait until this train wreck ends in a feiry ball. 

Posted by Manwhore on 06/30/08 at 02:32 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Go God Go

I just finished reading The God Delusion.  Suffice it to say, I found it intellectually stimulating but wasn’t as blown over as Lee was.  I think my reaction was nicely encapsulated by the South Park boys:

Our answer to the Great Question is the only logical one. Our Science is great. Let us not forget the great Richard Dawkins who finally freed the world of religion long ago. Dawkins knew that logic and reason were the way of the future. But it wasn’t until he met his beautiful wife that he learned using logic and reason isn’t enough. You have to be a dick to everyone who doesn’t think like you.

Dawkins is very very good when he talks about biology and evolution, presenting one of the clearest deconstruction of ID I’ve ever read.  He’s less so when he drifts out into history or physics.  Anyway, I liveblogged it over at my own site in nine long-winded posts on such things as the beliefs of scientists, the anthropic principle, morality, The Bible and so on. I guess my consciousness hasn’t been raised enough quite yet.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/30/08 at 08:56 AM in Religion and Sky Pixies  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Real Girls Eat Meat

I can’t believe this.  I’m on Jessica Simpson’s side:

Animal rights protesters have launched a series of angry campaigns against A-list carnivores. They are shifting their focus from celebrities who wear fur to others who encourage the “exploitation” of animals by eating them. In its latest campaign, Peta – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which became infamous for dousing fur-wearers in red paint – has launched an attack on the singer Jessica Simpson.

Ms Simpson was singled out for ridicule after she was spotted wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Real Girls Eat Meat”, believed to be a light-hearted dig at her boyfriend Tony Romo’s vegetarian ex-girlfriend, Carrie Underwood.

Alistair Currie, a spokesman for Peta, said: “Jessica Simpson might have a right to wear what she wants, but she doesn’t have a right to eat what she wants – eating meat is about suffering and death. Some people feel like they are standing up against a tide of political correctness when they make a statement like this – what she is really doing is standing up for the status quo.”

The animal rights group doctored a photo of Ms Simpson to read “Only Stupid Girls Eat Meat”, and listed “five reasons only stupid girls eat meat”.

In May the group condemned the British actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers for admitting that he had tried dog meat while in China.

There are eight zillion celebrities who eat meat.  God knows why they’re focusing on Jessica Simpson.  I guess for the same two reasons the picture in the article includes two veggie bikini babes.

Anytime I read something like this, I want to rush out and eat a bunch of meat just to show them.  Or maybe just lock the PETA folks in a small warm room with Harley.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/30/08 at 02:47 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Don’t Mess With A Military Man
by Lee

Wesley Clark is such a fucking scumbag.

With Senator Barack Obama planning to visit the Middle East and Europe in an apparent effort to burnish his foreign policy credentials, the credentials of his likely presidential rival, Senator John McCain, came under sharp attack Sunday from a man considered a possible Democratic vice presidential candidate.

The retired general Wesley Clark said McCain had not “held executive responsibility” and had not commanded troops in wartime.

McCain’s experience in Vietnam, where he was a prisoner of war for five years, has seemed at times almost to grant him invulnerability to criticism of his security background. But on Sunday he was assailed by a fellow military man, a highly decorated one who was once the NATO supreme commander.

McCain frequently points out that he led “the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy,” but Clark said on CBS television that that was not enough to support a claim to the presidency.

“He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall” as a wartime commander, the general said on CBS. Clark is mentioned as a possible Obama running mate, although he originally supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When the interviewer, Bob Schieffer, noted to Clark that McCain had been shot down over Hanoi, Clark replied, “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

This man has sold his soul in an egomaniacal lust for power.  Let’s let Matt Welch, a fierce critic of McCain’s, tell his story.

[A]fter being shot out of the sky during a risky raid over Hanoi in 1967, then pummeled by a mob of local Vietnamese and detained at the notorious prison nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, McCain comported himself heroically despite two broken arms, a mangled knee, and innards wracked by dysentery and other maladies. Every morning for two years a guard the prisoners called The Prick would demand that McCain bow to him. Every morning McCain would refuse, then brace for his beating. Herded into a made-for-propaganda Christmas Eve service in the prison yard, McCain punctured the enforced silence with repeated shouts of “Fuck you!” while raising his middle finger to the camera. Beat senseless for days on end for refusing to divulge information or accept early release (which would have given the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory and violated the Navy’s honor code), he would reveal only the names of every player he could remember from the Green Bay Packers. “Resisting, being uncooperative and a general pain in the ass,” he wrote, “proved, as it had in the past, to be a morale booster for me.”

Wesley Clark is a worthless piece of shit, a man completely devoid of honor or integrity, an embarrassment to the uniform he once wore.  Back to the original article:

When Schieffer then asked what executive responsibility Obama had held - the Democrat’s résumé includes work as a community organizer in Chicago and eight years in the Illinois legislature - Clark said that Obama was running on the strength of his character and good judgment.

That’s it.  McCain doesn’t have the experience necessary to be in command of the military, despite being a fighter pilot who got his teeth kicked in for five years by savage Vietnamese communists.  But Obama?  Well, he’s a nice guy.

Now, let’s compare Clark to another military man, Colin Powell.

He was a four-star American general, the secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s first term and remains a Republican.

But Colin Powell said Thursday in Vancouver that he is considering voting for Democrat Barack Obama in November—and he took shots at the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and the holding of terrorism suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Powell told a crowd of about 1,000 people at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre that he hasn’t decided whether to support Obama or Republican John McCain for the U.S. presidency.

Powell said that Obama’s life story sums up the “American dream” and he described McCain as the “toughest man I’ve ever met.”

Powell said he told both candidates recently that he has not decided which one will have his coveted endorsement.

The African-American former general said his decision won’t be based on the race or military experience of the candidates, but on their passion and policies.

Powell, of course, is all class.  Clark is beneath contempt.

Posted by Lee on 06/30/08 at 02:29 AM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Politician, Strike Thyself
by Lee

Bob Barr makes an interesting observation about the type of jurists a President McCain would support.

“I don’t think he’s ever had [a legal philosophy],” Barr said. “He cannot run and hide from the fact that he is McCain of McCain-Feingold. How anybody whose signature piece of legislation is the most anti-freedom, anti-First Amendment piece of legislation passed in congress in generations, can, with a straight face, claim that they will support jurists who are ‘conservative’ is beyond me. Clearly, he’s not going to—or common sense tells us he’s not going to appoint somebody to the Supreme Court or to a lesser federal court, somebody whose philosophy is going to lead them to strike down McCain-Feingold, which is his signature piece of legislation.”

That’s a damn good point.

Update: David Boaz at Cato discusses McCain’s recent comment on the Heller decision:  “Today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right – sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.”

You can’t get much stronger than that. Except . . .  wait . . . what was it McCain said about our sacred right to free speech? Oh, right, two years ago on the Don Imus show he said, “I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt.” So when McCain says that our Second Amendment rights are just as fundamental and sacred as our First Amendment rights, maybe he’s pulling a bait-and-switch. Because he’s thoroughly indifferent to the First Amendment.

The next time one of you says something like “I can’t understand why anyone who claims to be a libertarian could stomach an Obama presidency,” just remember this post.  They both are good in many ways and they both suck in many ways.

Posted by Lee on 06/30/08 at 12:41 AM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Emerging from A Shadow

I took a little bit of a pause over the week in preparation for a couple of pretty landmark events in my life. The first I can now talk about in the next is still pending birth in my life. As for the first, I would say it is pretty significant. This weekend my brother and I met my father, my biological father, for the first time in 25 of my 31 years. It was not a meeting that was overtly emotional (we’re all men now) but it did do my heart some good.

My father flew out from Florida on Friday, and met with us over the weekend. We did some of the usual Los Angeles stuff, we went to Venice, the Mann’s (now grummann’s) Chinese, visited Rodeo, and ate well (Los Angeles is known for it’s eating). We danced around the long pause, as I am trying to focus on getting to know the man. It was odd to me how many character traits we all share, even though we have had scant contact with each other. I know know my father is a school teacher of “special” children along with his fourth wife. He is a devout Christian (Episcopalian now, of all things) and a consummate giver. My grandfather was a surgeon, and disgruntled psychiatrist. He favored surgery over psychiatry in the thirties because he said he saw the results faster. I have three uncles. One was a radiologist and thrill seeker (he was renowned in his industry/spent time on a Russian sub, and competitive bicycle rider into his seventies), one an IRS agent, one a retired Army brass, and the last an accountant. My father was an accountant turned teacher. I was surprised to find out how successful many of them are, and learn the drama in my life is shared across the board. My father does a lot of mission work in Central America (he says they focus on community effort and morally do not try conversion anymore, it’s strictly aide).

As I was talking to the man I never met in my life it was apparent to me that life is very short. I read a lot of the readers dramas (in part because I am people person) because I revel in the human side of life. You guys might not know it, but I keep tabs on everyone, as much as you allow me. This might have filled a void in my life, but now I generally regard this habit as general concern for all the people I know (like my father) that I never met face to face.

If anyone wanted to know why there was a pause it was because of this. I was very anxious and nervous about this meeting, and really hoped everything went well. My father officially passed the reigns onto me this trip. I drove the car, I called the shots, and his wife called me by his surname when addressing me. For my part, I tried to make the old man’s time easy and free of hard talk about the past. I’m going to try to get to know him given time is of the essence. I was very proud of him, and told him he was a big man for doing what he did.

For anyone reading this, I hope my story hits somewhere that life is very short, and we only get who we get for family. I have to say that I am a changed man after this experience. I now have the history of him and a new group of people to embrace in my life. I could have chosen to be petty, but I wanted to give him his fair chance in my life, and he responded. It proves to me that many people are not beyond approach, and letting go of things helps the soul.

I’ll get off my soap box now so you guys can tell me about any earth shattering things in your lives. as I said before, I am an avid listener.

Posted by Manwhore on 06/29/08 at 07:51 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Poverty For The Planet

When saving Mother Earth becomes more important than saving people:

The human cost of the global biofuel switch was put in stark terms today by international advocacy group Oxfam, which released a report saying biofuels are responsible for pushing 30 million people into poverty (International Herald Tribune, Reuters and BBC coverage). The widely noted report asserts that the increasing use of grains as biofuel feedstocks is responsible for 30 percent of the increase in food prices, and that’s hitting the world’s poorest hard.

The report, written by Oxfam biofuel policy adviser Rob Bailey, urges developed nations to abandon their biofuel mandates and get rid of the subsidies and tariffs on biofuels that are destroying the ability of the market to appropriately adjust biofuel and food supply and demand. These economic hurdles have lead to an all-time low in grain reserves, the report says, and pushed food prices to record highs.

The report goes beyond the humanitarian consequences and puts numbers to the environmental boondoggle that is the current biofuel economy. Oxfam estimates that land-use changes largely from the palm oil plantations that have popped up around the world’s equator, are emitting a huge amount of CO2, and it will take 46 years of projected 2020-level biofuel use to make up a “carbon debt.”

I’m sure Al Gore would be the first to say let them drink ethanol.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 06/29/08 at 04:26 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Bite Me, Boy

The scumbaggery of Bill Clinton continues even as his wife and Obama now become BFF.

Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president’s future campaign role is a “sticking point” in peace talks with Mrs Clinton’s aides.

The Telegraph has learned that the former president’s rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.

A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could “kiss my ass” in return for his support.

A second source said that the former president has kept his distance because he still does not believe Mr Obama can win the election.

Maybe Obama had a point about bitter white Southerners, at least those who cling to delusions of dynasty.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 06/29/08 at 04:14 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Defunding Ignorance

This is a welcome development:

Skeptical states are shoving aside millions of federal dollars for abstinence education, walking away from the program the Bush administration touts for slowing teen sexual activity.

Barely half the states are still in, and two more say they are leaving.

Some $50 million has been budgeted for this year, and financially strapped states might be expected to want their share. But many have doubts that the program does much, if any good, and they’re frustrated by chronic uncertainty that it will even be kept in existence. They also have to chip in state money in order to receive the federal grants.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, made his decision to leave based on the congressionally mandated curriculum, which teaches “the social, psychological and health gains of abstaining from sexual activity.” Instructors must teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.

“It was just too strict,” said Emily Hajek, policy adviser to Culver. “We believe local providers have the knowledge to teach what’s going to be best in those situations, what kind of information will help those young people be safe. You cannot be that prescriptive about how it has to be taught.”

A federal tally shows that participation in the program is down 40 percent over two years, with 28 states still in. Arizona and Iowa have announced their intention to forgo their share of the federal grant at the start of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

It’s a little more complicated that just rejecting the funding. It’s inconsistent and requires matching funds.  But states have found ways to grab similar federal grants.  They are clearly figuring out that just wagging your finger and saying, “No no no! Bad christian. Don’t touch her down there!” is a waste of time and money.  Despite the claims of the cock-blockers, abstinence-only education, as opposed to abstinence+birth control education, doesn’t work and may, in fact, make things worse.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/29/08 at 02:53 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

I’m Hussein And So’s My Wife

Talk about your dumb pointless gestures:

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name [Hal - isn’t that credit card fraud?], while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.” Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.

They’re trying the counter the whole “Barack Hussein Obama” meme, which I’ve had my fill of as well.  But I really think all this will do is drive voters away.  I can’t explain it—maybe you guys can—but adopting Hussein as a middle name to show “solidarity” bothers me.  It’s pointless.  It’s pretentious.  It’s meaningless. It smacks of the whole Obamessiah crap (Thou Shalt Not Take Thy Obama’s Name In Vain).

In short, it’s a very very liberal thing to do.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/29/08 at 12:04 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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