Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Linkorama

Sunday, December 27th, 2009
  • Peter Suderman runs down the failed healthcare experiments that comprise our national plan. Those who do not learn from current events are destined to be Democrats.
  • If you’re going to embrace alternative energy, you can’t start playing NIMBY game. There simply isn’t enough spoiled land to provide all our power that way.
  • The worst ideas of the decade.
  • Yet more debunking of the idea that global cooling was the consensus in the 70′s.
  • I’ve probably posted this video before, but I can’t find it in my links. It’s about change blindness and it’s amazing.
  • Coolnessin science.
  • A collection of hilarity from HuffPo.
  • A report says that ACORN broke now laws. Of course, this just proved how deep the conspiracy goes.
  • Well, at least lobbyists are doing well in this economy. And at least bureaucrats are getting tax breaks.
  • Tuesday Linkorama

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
  • Apparently, Chuck Norris thinks that Mary was an unwed mother. I don’t think that’s the case. And speaking of abortion laws. Here’s another reason I left the GOP.
  • A little bit of point counterpoint on the climate.
  • A great post on a better way to evaluate education.
  • About time for Sir Picard.
  • Wednesday Linkorama

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
  • I must say that I am sympathetic to the view that med-mal should not be part of healthcare reform. It’s a state issue.
  • More from America’s worst sheriff.
  • Yet more evidence that various government contributed to the housing bubble. And keep doing so.
  • I agree with cracked. Dorkade it is.
  • The FAA was given $3.5 billion to make airports safer. A few weeks ago, we had a massive failure in the Air Traffic Control System. But at least luxury terminals are being built around the country. They even defend the practice.
  • A great if long post from Jim Manzi about how to build our economy for this century. It breaks my heart because no one in Washingotn will read it or give a rat’s ass.
  • Why have I left the Right? Because of shit like this. It is absolutely revolting to hear a TV personality accuse the President of treason. I don’t care what fucking party he’s from or how liberal he is. That I have assumed good faith in the actions of my political opponents is enough for me to be a heretic. So be it. I’m a heretic.
  • The Other Climategate

    Monday, December 14th, 2009

    New Scientist has a summary of Climate-gate-esque deceptions that have been found in the anti-AGW movement. One that was very important to me was #4.

    In 2008, the Forum on Physics and Society (FPS), a newsletter produced by the American Physics Society, published an article entitled “Climate sensitivity reconsidered”. The article claimed that “the IPCC’s estimates may be excessive and unsafe” and that attempts to cut CO2 emissions “are pointless, may be ill-conceived and could even be harmful”.

    The article was written by Christopher Monckton, a British journalist and consultant. Although apparently highly technical, the piece has been strongly criticised by professional climate scientists, including Gavin Schmidt, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York.

    The piece was reported by the US Science and Public Policy Institute as having been “peer-reviewed”.

    The editors of FPS pointed out that, as was standard practice at the journal, they had merely edited the piece without sending it out to specialist climate scientists for peer review. A disclaimer was subsequently added to the piece, clarifying that nothing in FPS was peer-reviewed.

    I remember this one very clearly. Several conservative blogs linked to his article with the statement that the head of the American Physics Society had published an article disproving climate change. I clicked through and was markedly unimpressed. Much of it was out of date or wrong. The article was not a peer-reviewed article so much as it was a letter they’d commissioned from Monckton, a journalist not a scientist, because they couldn’t find a scientist who would dispute their articles.

    What shocked me was that when I pointed this out on several conservative blogs, I was pilloried. I was told I was a secret communist and Algore disciple and was being bamboozled and was consumed by my “religion” of environmentalism. Read the comments to the New Scientist article and you’ll see pretty much the same thing.

    This is why I have moved from flat out disbelief in AGW to skeptical belief. It’s been a series of incidents like that — of finding out that I was being lied to. I found out that global cooling was not the consensus science in the 1970′s. I found out that the temperatures did not track the solar cycle. I found out that 1934 wasn’t the warmest year in history. I found out that the last decade hasn’t cooled. I found out that whatever faults the models have — and they have many — the underlying theory was sound.

    I’m not totally on board with everything the climate idiots want to do. And any movement that takes Chavez, Mugabe and Ahmadinejad seriously has some big problems. But in the end, my thinking is very similar to the Minimax Principle outlined in this old video. The downside risk of doing nothing and regretting it crosses me as greater than the downside risk of doing something and regretting it — especially as fossil fuels will run out one day anyway.

    My question for the climate refusers is always this: what do you think are the odds that global warming is real? Dick Cheney justified a trillion dollar invasion of Iraq by saying it was worth it if there was even a 1% chance that Iraq would set off a nuke in American city. If there even a 1% chance that global warming is real — and I personally would put the odds more like 65% — should we not do something?

    The Long-Belated Movie Post

    Saturday, December 12th, 2009

    It just occurred to me that I never went back over the 2007 or 2008 movies, like I did with 2006. Part of this is that between daughter, move and work, Sue and I are watching far fewer movies than we used to.

    But part of it, I think, is that I deliberately spaced on 2007, since it wasn’t exactly a horrid year for movies, but it wasn’t a good year and it was a depressing year. The top ten movies with 25,000 votes on IMDB were No Country For Old Men, Sicko, the Bourne Ultimatum, Ratatouille, There Will Be Blood, Into the Wild, the Man From Earth, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Hot Fuzz and American Gangster. No Country for Old Men was well made but I find Comac McCarthy’s ugly view of humanity off-putting. Sicko, as fiction, was probably OK. As a “documentary”, it was a sick joke, as I frequently blogged. Into the Wild was quite good as was There Will Be Blood and Diving Bell. But again, all three were downer movies.

    There are still a couple of films I want to see from 2007. But it’s significant than I look back at 2007, the only movies I have on DVD are The Simpsons and Potter 5 (both of which were “fan” purchases). If I had unlimited funds, I might buy several other films. But there were no films, none, that made me say You Must Buy This. If I had to list my favorite movies of 2007, they would probably be, in no particular order, with my IMDB rating listed:

    No Country For Old Men: 8
    There Will Be Blood: 8
    Hot Fuzz: 7
    Atonement: 8
    Lust, Caution: 8
    The Great Debaters: 7
    Knocked Up: 7
    Harry Potter 5: 8
    Charlie Wilson’s War: 8
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly : 8
    Into the Wild: 8

    with the caveat that I have yet to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days or Sweeney Todd. Lots of depressing titles in that list. None of them rated the 9 or 10 that usually indicated greatness. And I don’t see that I would raise any of them after further reflection.

    Anyway, the main reason I’m writing this is that I recently had a burst of movie watching to catch up on 2008 (yes, I know, it’s almost 2010 — you try watching movies with a 2-year-old). But looking back, I now think that 2008 was an exceptional year for movies

    The top ten IMDB movies of 2008 were The Dark Knight, WALL-E, Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, The Wrestler, In Bruges, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Let the Right One In, Iron Man and Changeling. I have seen all except Torino and Right One. I have the top three on blu-ray. All eight of the ones I have seen are very good and better than almost anything I saw in 2007.

    Going further down the list reveals things like Frost/Nixon, Doubt and Pineapple Express — all good movies. Hell even fluff like Definitely, Maybe and Vicky Christian Barcelona wasn’t too bad. When a Ryan Reynolds movie doesn’t completely suck, it must be a good year.

    In fact, what stimulated this post was a recent buying/renting spree that reminded me of just how good 2008 was.

    Here are my top movies of 2008. All are rated at least an 8, except Dark Knight, which I rated a 9.

    The Dark Knight – I blogged about this before.

    WALL-E – Pixar has yet to make a bad movie. Spectacular on blu-ray.

    Slumdog Millionaire – Wonderfully directed and acted. Even my uncle liked it. Also spectacular on blu-ray. IMDB rating: 8.

    The Wrestler – A downer movie, but one worth watching just for Mickey Rourke’s exceptional performance.

    Frost/Nixon – I was on the edge of my seat for this one. A movie carried by its actors. I would have rated it higher except that Ron Howard performed his usual historical revisionism.

    Doubt – Another acting tour de force. Watching Hoffman and Streep go at it is like watching two prize-fighters go into the 15th round.

    Still need to see: Gran Torino, The Reader, Burn After Reading, Defiance, Valkyrie, Milk.

    Hopefully, my 2009 review will be up before 2011. Now that I’m settled into State College, I’m getting a little more movie-watching done.

    More From Me

    Saturday, December 12th, 2009

    Sullivan’s first letter is from me.

    The provocation of my note is the discussion of a “war tax” to pay for our ongoing conflicts. I think we should pay for our wars — maybe a tax hike would make us more circumspect about military engagement. My problem with a war tax is more technical — they tend to stick around after the war is over. The phone tax to pay for the Spanish American War lasted for 108 years.

    Yesterday, I tried out Limbaugh again — I turn him on about once a quarter to see if he has regained his sanity. He hadn’t. He was responding to the claim that no President has started a war and cut taxes at the same time. His first line of defense was to attack the source of the claim. Only after bashing them did he come up with the weak defense that Reagan cut taxes while ramping the Cold War. Which is fine except that Reagan raised taxes. Twice.

    More Climate Stuff

    Saturday, December 12th, 2009

    Attacks on Aussie data provoke responses, many responses. And Climategate provokes death threats and responses.

    Sexted To Death

    Friday, December 11th, 2009

    Necessary caveat: sending nude pictures of yourself — at any age — is dumb. Still, this story, and the MSM reaction, is infuriating.

    Thursday Linkorama

    Friday, December 11th, 2009
  • Hilarious fishing bloopers.
  • Yeah. What about Oyster guy?
  • How do people get money to do this sort of research? If it’s true, then a campaign to promote internet porn might do more good than the current iteration of healthcare (well, for men, at least).
  • You have to wonder when all the Right Wingers who agitated for the Duke Lacrosse players will take up this case. I’m also curious as to why the victim was not allowed to be cross-examined.
  • Sarah Palin vs. Algore. Dumb and Dumberer. I can’t believe that either of them are touted as leaders. But I do think she has a point: Algore did just up and quit halfway through his term of office. Oh, wait…
  • Sometimes, They Make Me Happy

    Thursday, December 10th, 2009

    The GOP, including Tom Coburn of all people, has come out aggressively against the Uganda law that would potentially execute gays. Bravo, guys. If only the President spoke against it that forcefully.

    London Linkorama

    Monday, December 7th, 2009
  • No surprise here.
  • That story of the Airtran flight? Complete bullshit. I suspected as much and said so on the other blog.
  • Why France will never be a real economic power. I’m all in favor of breaking the glass ceiling. But you can’t just mandate these things.
  • More on the idea of an NCAA playoff.
  • Bad enough getting busted for taping a movie. But for New Moon?
  • More wondrous tales of the IRS.
  • Fundamentalists of the world — unite!.
  • Annual BCS Rant

    Sunday, December 6th, 2009

    Even though I something of a Longhorn partisan, having spent four years at UT, I was kind of hoping they would lose and throw the BCS into complete turmoil. A loss would have put the voters in the uncomfortable position of having to either move TCU up into the #2 spot or jump Cincinnati over them (or Boise State over both).

    As it is now, the BCS defenders will say, “Hey! It worked. Bama and Texas are clearly the two best teams in the country and they’re playing for the title!”. Nevermind that this supposition is anything but clear. I am not convinced that TCU, Boise State or Cincinnati couldn’t pull off a win again Alabama or Texas. Hell, I’m not convinced Georgia Tech, Oregon and Ohio State couldn’t do it. I do know that all eight of the conference champs have earned a shot at the title. They all deserve a chance to show what they can do on the field. The only reason Alabama and Texas are getting a chance and TCU or Ohio State aren’t is because the writers like Alabama and Texas, not because they necessarily showed that they were better teams.

    This year will be a big test for the BCS’s integrity. Do they serve the big conferences or do they serve the game? There are two non-major teams that clearly deserve a bid for the BCS. Are they going to honor those deserving teams? Or will they give out an undeserved BCS spot to a second-tier squad like Virginia Tech or Oregon State? My money is on the latter. The BCS can always be relied on to make a dumb decision.

    For what it’s worth, here would be my BCS picks, bold indicates decisions that are already pre-made.

    National Title Game: Alabama vs. Texas
    Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State
    Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. TCU
    Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Iowa
    Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati

    However, I expect the BCS to tap Virginia Tech instead of Boise State. The rotation in which teams are picked lends itself to dumb decisions. But if I’m holding a BCS bid and I look back the greatest BCS game ever — Boise State’s upset of Oklahoma — I know which team I’d like to take.

    Now the playoff system I have long advocated would put eight teams in January 1 bowls with rigid slots for the Big Ten, SEC, Pac Ten and ACC. The two “at large” teams would be mid-major champions. No loser second-place teams would have a shot at the title in my system. In that case you would get:

    Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State
    Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State
    Fiesta Bowl:Cincinnati vs. TCU
    Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Florida

    With the winners playing three more games to determine the title. It doesn’t bow to the great conferences and TV gods, I’ll grant. But it’s fair.

    Update: Amazingly, the BCS picked both Boise State and TCU, albeit in the same bowl. I’m very pleased – but not as please as I’d be if they had a crack at the champion.

    The Return of Linkorama

    Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
  • Ha. How true.
  • Ha. How droll.
  • I definitely will not link to this sick and twisted piece of hilarity.
  • Stimulus spending is at least stimulating the richest part of the country.
  • Hmmm. You have to wonder what the smoke crusaders will make of this.
  • So let me get this straight. The projection that people will get more “souped-up” healthcare plans and spend more money on healthcare is a selling point of reform? Right.
  • When even James Hansen thinks cap and trade is dumb, it must be dumb. This is pretty standard for global warming policy these days — set big important goals decades down the road, do nothing now. A carbon tax is simple, directly attacks the problem, can be adjusted. It would be even better if the revenue stream were countered with a corporate flat tax.
  • In other climate news, Scientific American has a good, if sarcastic and smug, response to anti-global warming claims. Informative article but their condescending tone is part of the problem with persuading the critics.
  • More from America’s Sheriff.
  • Knowledge

    Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

    funny graphs and charts
    see more Funny Graphs