Archive for February, 2007

Priceless

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Jerry Taylor smokes the GOP on their BS. Specifically, they launched a barrage of criticisms of Hillary for energy policy. But, oops! Every policy they criticize her for is either (a) supported by Bush; or (b) the sort of things like subsidies, that conservatives once opposed.

So tell me again what the difference is between the GOP and the Dems?

Risk

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

One thing we ape-folk are really really bad at is risk assessment. We’re afraid of terrorism even though we’re more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning. We worry about our children fondling guns when more of them drown. John Stossel here debunks the latest bunch of crap being peddled by that hypocritical moron RFK, Jr — the notion that vaccinations are creating autism.

The first time I heard RFKJ spout his nonsense on the Daily Show, I knew he was wrong. I practically yelled . . . actually did yell, “You moron! Maybe autism is up because we’re better at diagnosing it!” Well, my instinct was right. And his blithering was wrong. And God knows how many children are going to suffer because their parents panicked about the imaginary danger of vaccines instead of the extremely real dangers of what those vaccines protect us against.

Two Warm Points

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Continuing on my global warming theme, there are two points I’d like to make.

The first is sort of a side-step. One of the things I can’t stand is when an issue is “debated” on television and the debate is presented betwen (a) an articulate informed individual arguing for the side the host favors; (b) a raving idiot arguing for the side the host opposes. The idea is to make it look like one side are a bunch of morons. Both liberals and conservatives do this. Neal Boortz does it by associating all illegal immigrants with La Raza. And while the blog was down, Jon Stewart did it on global warming. He had on a guest presenting a view opposing the global warming consensus. But he didn’t have someone like Patrick Michaels, who is a climatologist, a Cato scholar and has been arguing that while warming is real, the situation is not as dire as protrayed (a position vindicated by the IPCC report). No, he had the moronic author of the “Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming” who ranted and raved about how the environmental movement is filled with ex-commies.

His point about the commies was true, BTW. Fidel Casto was, after all, the keynote speaker at the first Earth Summit. But his point was also irrelevant. I despise “guilt by association” arguments. Most of the people I work and associate with are spectacularly wrong, IMHO, on issues like taxes, socialism and the power that government should have. But they are right, again in my opinion, on other issues like the culture war, civil liberties and creationism. I can’t dismiss their ideas on one issue just because I disagree on something else. A lot of enviros are ex-commies; actually a lot are still commies. But even the commies were right occasionally. Like, um . . . like going to the moon was as good idea. Arguments have to be beaten, not smeared.

The second thing that’s my driving me crazy on this subject is the abuse of the word “consensus”. There is consensus among scientists that man-made global warming is taking place. (Not that consensus necessarily means they’re right, of course). What is not a consensus at all is how bad it is, how bad it will be, how emission levels will change over the next century, whether glaciers will melt and, if so, how much. The “c-word” pushes climate change debate into the realm of religion: That having accepted global warming as your personal savior, you are now required to accept every hysterical doomsday scenario that comes down the pipe.

Nuts to that. Just because I accept cosmology doesn’t mean I have to believe that H-naught is 72. Just because I accept evolution doesn’t mean I have to take Time’s “what man will look like in a million years” spread seriously. And, contrary to what the Bushbots think, being conservative doesn’t mean I automatically support the GOP.

Accepting man-made global warming as reality does not require one to accept the doomsday scenarios being peddled by the igorant likes of AlGore. They might be true. The IPCC seems to think not.

I realize that many of the remaining warming skeptics tend to overlap with the creationist crowd and have the same mentality. Debate within evolution means that evolutions isn’t true. Likewise, debate about the scale, effects and future of global warming means that global warming is a scam.

But the response to this is not an inverse orthodoxy. It’s educating people about how science works. That there is always room for debate and discussion; that we are never 100% sure. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that. I promise.

What Happened

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

I’m hoping to upload an image soon. But if you want to know why my site shut down for a week, here are the usage numbers: One February 1, I had 2920 hits. On February 5, I hade 18,694. By February 12, we we were up to 79000. And on February 14, my brother shut it down when traffic hit 112,000 hits. These were not people reading the blog. These were people putting in thousands of trackbacks and comments for spam.

Since the blog was rebooted, the traffic has fallen to 54,000 hits. And I hope it will keep falling as the spammer figure out it is no longer open season.

Fucking spammers. What the hell did they think they were accomplishing?

Leave Well Enough Alone

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

OK, what the hell is wrong with web designers these days? I realized they have to earn their keep, but in the last month or two CNNSI, IMDB and Yahoo! Sports have all undergone significant changes that have made their pages far less accessible and legible. Seriously, CNNSI has take a huge step backward. It looks like a web page you might have seen ten years ago.

My Hesitation

Monday, February 26th, 2007

One of the things that make me hesitate to jump on the global warming bandwagon is the unanimity that has arisen on the subject. I get nervous when everyone agrees, especially on a scientific issue. We ape-folk are prone to panics, moral and otherwise. And I fear that in our haste to “do something”, we will cause immense damage not only to our economy but perhaps to the environment. What stupid and destructive technologies might we adopt in our hysteria? What if we all get CFC lightbulbs and it turns out they’re putting mercury in the air? Could we get another MTBA where we put an additive in gas the pollute the water?

We have a bad history with this sort of thing. The excesses we have gone to to “solve” poverty, drugs, crime, terrorism and racism have often had terrible side effects. Our industrial engine is vast, complex and powerful. We should be very careful about tinkering with it.

And again, there’s an atonishing amount of smarminess and stupidity popping up on the issue. My diatribe here was stimulated by Al Gore’s back-patting in Hollywood — once again asking everyone else to sacrifice. And getting rewarded for the hysterical, false and destructive claim that global warming caused Katrina.

I can guarantee that bad solutions to global warming are going to be foisted upon us. Ethanol for example.

Academy Awards

Monday, February 26th, 2007

So far, I’ve seen Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed. The latter was the better film, although Sunshine was enjoyable. I’m eager to see Babel especially. Despite the dreck we’ve seen on silver screens the last two months, I still think 2007 will be a good year.

On the political side, everytime I see AlGore, I’m glad we didn’t elect that hamster President. Of course, I’m not terribly pleased with the shmuck we did end up with, but we would have done a lot worse if we’d put that pseudo-intellectual elitist in there.

And am I the only person who wonders how the hell the Oscars “went green”? Does this mean they drove up in hybrid limos? Has Leo DeCaprio given up his SUV? Is AlGore flying business class instead of on private jets?

Bunch of assholes patting themselves on the back. It’s easy to say you’re green and get lots of cheers. It’s much harder to give up on the priveleges of the rich and famous. It’s always the rest of America that has to sacrifice.

I was a little disappointed with Ellen Degeneres or whoever that was occupying her body. Ellen normally kills me – her standup is hilarious and never wallows in the worn-out trough of female comics – insecurity. Tonight the edge was off. They were looking for a kindler gentler host. That’s what they got. Snooze.

Oh, one last thing. The Oscar are much more tolerable on DVR.

What I Learned

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

During my 12-day absence, I missed the hell out of blogging. I was relentlessly pressuring my brother to “Get the blog back up!”, which is fairly presumptuous since I don’t pay him nuthin’. Anyway, there may only be three people that read this blog if you include my cat. But there’s something therapeutic about putting my thoughts out there. At the very least, it puts off my rendezvous with a rooftop and an AK-47 off for a few more days each time I post.

There’s been a lot to talk about. We’ve had:

  • Republicans insisting that the Brit pullout means things are going well. The GOP loves the “everything is going fine in 80% of the country” meme. I’m really glad we’ve secured such huge areas of uninhabited desert. When it’s possible to drive from Baghdad to the airport without being shot, let us know.
  • Walter Williams brilliantly guest-hosted for Limbaugh and wrote a column on one my favorite subjects — the danger of Opportunity Cost.
  • John Stossell had a nice special on the disproportionate fear we have of things. We fear terrorism and child abduction more than we fear lightning strikes, which kill more people. Of course, it’s not that simple. We feel like we can prevent terrorism and child abduction. Most people don’t feel that way about lightning.
  • Cato reported that kids are, for the first time, trailing their parents in education. The NYT chimed in that grades are rising even as reading ability falters. This is the system we have to forgo vouchers to protect? Every day makes it clearer to me that our education system is fundamentally broken.
  • And there was a nice diatribe from Radley Balko in response to Michael Medved’s nonsense about how only men of God can be President.
  • Registration

    Sunday, February 25th, 2007

    We’ll see how this works. I’ve set up the blog to only allow comments for registered users.

    Ye Olde Posts

    Sunday, February 25th, 2007

    So what has happened to the last fifteen months of blogging? I have no idea. I’m hoping there is a database somewhere in my directory structure that I can eventually resuscitate. But for now, we’re a blank slate here at michaelsiegel.net. Ah, the possibilities. I coudl pretend to be a liberal or something.

    Of course, since I started criticizing Bush, everyone already thinks I ama liberal. Oh well.

    Right now, I’m recovering my last few from the old RSS feed.

    Back to Life

    Sunday, February 25th, 2007

    Just a note to indicate we’re back on the air. What happened? Well, the spam had gotten to the point where my brother’s server was being overloaded. We have now switched to WordPress, which should mitigate the problem. We hope.

    I’m still tinkering, hoping to set this up so that registration will be required to comment.

    And how appropriate that the damn thing crashed on Valentine’s Day?

    Overreach

    Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

    Apparently, the new Red Sox ace is drawing the ire of the US government for drinking beer in an ad.

    An ad that aired in Japan.

    This comes on the heels of arrests of foreign internet gambling managers in US airports.

    If this sounds reasonable to you, I wonder you’d think of Saudis yanking people off of planes if they’ve ever had a drink. Or perhaps tossing Bill Clinton off a minaret for adultery.

    This is not a can of worms we need to be opening. I’ll tell you what, Feds. Wh don’t you start off with simple, like enforcing the laws of this country *in* this country against the people to whom it applies. For example you could, oh I don’t know, enforce the laws against tens of millions of illegal immigrants. After you perfect that, we’ll talk about enforcing our laws on Japan and Britain.

    Arrogant assholes. This is what happens when you elect a President who thinks he is absolutely right on every issue. Constitution, international law and national borders be damned. He’s RIGHT. God told him so.

    Tax Courage

    Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

    You know something I’m sick of? The media hailing tax-hikes as “courageous”. It takes precisely zero political courage to raise taxes. Most of the taxes are paid by a small minority of people – at the federal level, half of Americans don’t pay any taxes at all. So raising taxes doesn’t take any courage beyond pandering.

    On the other hand, cutting spending takes tremendous courage — as demonstrated by the tremendous dearth of it. Every special interest wants its money. Every program has its vocal defenders. And spending programs are judged not by their records but by their intentions. Cutting useless anti-poverty programs “hurts the poor”; cutting ineffective anti-drug programs “puts kids on drugs”.

    And real courage would be the media throwing away the Democratic (or in this case, pseudo-Republican) Party talking points and having opinions of their own

    Oily Idiot

    Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

    Governor Jim Doyle wins my Idiot of the month award:

    Gov. Jim Doyle proposes taxing big oil companies more than $270 million over the next two years to help pay for the state’s transportation needs.

    Doyle said the assessment will equate to $1.50 per barrel of oil sold in the state, and the companies would be prohibited from passing the tax on to customers at the pump. Violations carry a criminal penalty of up to six months in prison.

    How precisely does one do this? Are we talking about price controls. *Ding*, I believe we are. And what happens when you fix the price of something below market value? That’s right, it disappears from the market.

    People in Wisconsin had better learn to ride bicycles.