Saturday, September 22, 2007

See? The climate models ARE wrong!

The North Pole Is Melting: Scientific American:
Such precipitous loss of ice cover far outpaces anything climate models or scientists have predicted.
"The observed rates of change have far outstripped what we projected."

So, what's next, the thermohaline circulation weakening much faster than projected because of all that freshwater from melted ice? Oh, well... At least there'd be the likely upside that the French wouldn't have to shut down any more nukes due to the water they use for cooling the condensers being too warm.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rigging a study to make conservatives look stupid. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Rigging a study to make conservatives look stupid. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

I've read a few of the articles Mr. Saletan is reacting to, and I think I agree with him in the sense that I think entirely too much is being made of the study by the press.

I have not read the paper, and I'm not going to, but I think the study authors would agree that too much is being made of an interesting study intended to have a very narrow scientific focus.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Damned good question

Commentary: Where is the outrage when humans are abused? -

My own answer is that the Vick case was vastly overblown because of celebrity, while the case of the six cracker assholes received about the right amount of coverage. It was a newsworthy story, as should be the story of their rapid execution, but that's about it.

Come on, though. There are plenty of other things that need coverage, and focusing on one or two of the many, many outrages that occur all the time distracts from the wider picture.

Maybe that's part of the intent. Who knows? My two cents.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Conservatives just can't help themselves

Conservatives just can't help themselves
Amodio says that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a forebrain region, "serves almost as a barometer for this degree of conflict."

"People who have more sensitive activity in that area,'' he notes, "are more responsive to these cues that say they need to adapt their behavior," reacting more quickly and accurately to the unexpected stimulus. On average, people who described themselves as politically liberal had about 2.5 times the activity in their ACCs and were more sensitive to the "No-Go cue'' than their conservative friends.

"They are more sensitive to the need for change and more sensitive to the need to change their behavior," Amodio says about the politically left-leaning subjects.

In other words, conservatives are just slow.

No, seriously...

I wonder how I'd do on a test like this? Would I come out looking more conservative or liberal? I once took a test that showed me to be pretty close to the center, but I think it was because I harbor some attitudes which right-, and other attitudes which left-wingers, might consider extreme. The scale balanced but the weights were way out there.

There's an old joke about how, if you're conservative when young, it's because you have no heart, but if you're liberal when you're old it's because you have no brain. Well, if it's true that our brains slow down as we age, maybe the slowing affects the ACC. Now we know why older people tend towards conservatism.

Or not.

Interesting stuff. I'll see what a Google Alert on the researcher's name turns up over time.

LA Times has an article on this topic: Study finds left-wing brain, right-wing brain.

Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."

Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.

Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.

Caveats abound, of course.

Lead author David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, cautioned that the study looked at a narrow range of human behavior and that it would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation, he said.

Depending on the situation.

Maybe the world will be a better place when this sort of thing is widely understood and people are sensitized to the limits of their innate thinking style.

Or not.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

AFP: Terror groups raise funds through drugs: DEA

AFP: Terror groups raise funds through drugs: DEA:
'We'll have to deal with more and more hybrid' organisations in the future, Braun told the conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
Of course, because you won't consider addressing the fundamental cause, the thing that makes the trade lucrative.
"When your job takes you to the swamps to hunt snakes, you can end up taking crocs too -- they live in the same place."
Yes, well, sorry about the danger. Don't do it on my account. I'd just as soon you were put to work doing something more worthwhile.

.50 caliber assholes!

Tribal fishermen held after whale killed with machine gun -

"We allow native hunts for cultural purposes. However, this does not appear to be of that nature so far," he said.

What do you mean, "so far"? .50 caliber culture?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Q&A: "We're Dealing with a Christian Taliban"

Q&A: "We're Dealing with a Christian Taliban"

Let me make this clear. I'm doing this Q&A with you guys today as a man at war with the gun smoke in my face. We are not at war with Christianity or evangelical Christianity. We have many evangelical or non-evangelical Christians who massively support what our organisation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is doing. We are at war with a small subset of evangelical Christianity [known as] "Dominionist Christianity" and it represents about 12.6 percent of the American public or about 38 million people.


Let me make it clear. We are dealing with a Christian Taliban. They hate when I say that but that's too bad. If you look at Chris Hedges Book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" you'll see that the Christian Right is a fascistic organisation. And remember, I'm not a bleeding heart liberal -- not that there's anything wrong with that. I know the Christian Right would love it if I were a tree-hugging, Chardonnay-sipping, Northern California Democrat. I'm not. I come from a conservative military family. My youngest son just graduated three months ago from the Air Force Academy. He's the sixth member of my family to go there including myself. We have three consecutive generations of military academy graduates and over 128 years of combined active duty military service in my immediate family. I spent three and half years in the West Wing of the Reagan White House as one of his lawyers. I've been Ross Perot's general counsel. I didn't want to have to get into this fight. But when I say the Christian Taliban I frickin mean the Christian Taliban.


Sylvester and Tweety Bird

Sylvester and Tweety Bird
In a new video, al-Qaeda leader bin Laden again taunts Bush, the United States – and then the Democrats for not forcing an American withdrawal from Iraq, which should help guarantee that the Democrats won’t dare press for a withdrawal from Iraq.

At a summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Sydney, Australia, President Bush then did his part, highlighting bin Laden’s Iraq comments:

“I found it interested that on the tape Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is part of the war against extremists. If al-Qaeda bothers to mention Iraq, it’s because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out.”

Except that U.S. intelligence has long concluded that al-Qaeda really wants the opposite: to bog the United States down in a hopeless, bloody war in Iraq that has been a boon for recruiting young jihadists, raising money and protecting al-Qaeda’s leadership holed up in base camps inside Pakistan.


Now, as Bush faces another Democratic challenge to his plans for continuing the Iraq War, bin Laden shows up again, essentially berating the Democrats for not forcing U.S. troop withdrawals.


Fox News commentator Sean Hannity offered a taste of how the new bin Laden tape will be used against both Democrats and the American Left.

“One of the things that also struck me is the language specifically that he [bin Laden] used,” Hannity said. “He seemed to adopt the very same language that is being used by the hard Left in this country, as he describes what’s going on in Iraq as a ‘civil war’; he actually used the word ‘neocons’; he talked about global warming; he denounces capitalism and corporations.”

In other words, any similarity in language between bin Laden and what many Americans say in common conversations will be used to discredit them. They will become bin Laden’s fellow travelers.

All the better to get Bush and bin Laden what they both really want: a prolonged war in Iraq – and possibly a U.S. attack on the Shiite government of Iran.