Sunday, June 29, 2008

No Babies? - Declining Population in Europe -

No Babies? - Declining Population in Europe -

As I read this interesting piece (cached in comments in case the link above dies), which starts out concentrating on the natalist reaction to declining birthrates and the causes of the declines, it seemed that a particular contributor to the decline in birthrates had been ignored, that being the likely state of the world in which children born today will live, as perceived by prospective parents.

I wonder how many prospective parents think about the sort of world their children will live in? Maybe it's very small, and maybe that's what renders the question unimportant from the perspective of the piece's author.

Of those prospective parents who do think about the world their children will inherit, some will develop a dark outlook and tend not to breed, possibly out of projected love for the child that might have been. Others will agree that the globe's human population of 6 or 7 billion, trending towards 9 or 13 billion, is unsustainable and needs to drop drastically.

I am squarely with the much-maligned Paul Ehrlich.
Paul Ehrlich, the Stanford scientist who warned us about the “population bomb” in the 1960s, is more certain than ever that the human race is catastrophically straining the planet. “It’s insane to consider low birthrate as a crisis,” he told me. “Basically every person I know in my section of the National Academy of Sciences thinks it’s wonderful that rich countries are starting to shrink their populations to sustainable levels. We have to do that because we’re wrecking our life-support systems.”

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Buried Tank

I would happily shoot the son of a bitch who buried this thing in my back yard.

I have no idea what it may have been for, but it seems to have a capacity of two or three hundred gallons. It's buried along with all sorts of caliche, concrete and mortar rubble, many pieces of which have to be dug out individually, even if they're small enough for a shovel, because the shovel can't penetrate.

This is what it looks like on the inside.

Kind of pretty, don't you think?

Oh, well... Good thing I don't have to do this kind of work for a living, or I might be the one burying stuff like this.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rove, critics try to pin 'arrogant' label on Obama -

Rove, critics try to pin 'arrogant' label on Obama -
'I will say yes, I do think Barack Obama is arrogant,' Rove said Tuesday night on Fox News, where he's a contributor.

Rove's line of attack started a day earlier when ABC News quoted him telling Republicans that Obama is 'coolly arrogant.'

'Even if you never met him, you know this guy,' he said at a Capitol Hill breakfast, according to ABC. 'He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone.'

When asked about the comments Tuesday, Rove told Fox that he was 'not going to get into what I said in an off-the-record event.'
I will say yes, I do think Karl Rove is beneath contempt, as is Fox News, where he's a contributor.

Rove's lines of attack started to anger me when I first heard about them, when various sources repeatedly confirmed that my opinion of him as a "disgusting partisan asshole" was well justified.

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," I said to someone, anyone and everyone. "He's the amoral operator behind the scenes, with the pack of minions liplocked to his ass, that hides behind any cover he can find and does whatever it takes to manipulate political outcomes for the President who's led us to the sorry state we're in."

When asked why he would utter the phrase "off-the-record," Rove might as well have told Fox News, "It was just to create the false impression that I give a shit about such niceties."

Karl Rove: I can't think of anyone for whom I have less respect.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Drug WarRant

Drug WarRant:
Finally, what he has to say about us is that we don't spend enough time talking about 'the very real harm associated with marijuana among some people in some circumstances.' [emphasis added] With all those qualifiers, it's hard to blame reformers for wondering if it's really worth their time focusing on those problem people who will be there whether or not prohibition exists, when prohibition adversely affects EVERYONE. And I admit, quite frankly, that I don't give a f*ck about some psychologically messed up stoner who is dependent on marijuana, especially compared to people getting shot to death in their homes and spending decades in prison because nobody has the balls to face up to the fact that prohibition is wrong.
What he said!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Handy!

I smell bullshit.

A Highway Patrol officer pulls someone over for not signaling a lane change in a state where everyone ignores the speed limit, including the cops.

The driver declines consent to a search of the car, so the cop brings along a dog that handily "alerts" on the trunk. And this is probable cause to search?

Wait a minute! What's a Highway Patrolman doing with a drug sniffing dog, anyway? Isn't the Highway Patrol supposed to be tending to the highways, giving tickets to speeders and assisting stranded motorists?

This is bullshit. I think the cops used the dog's supposed "alert" as a pretext to circumvent the man's right not to be unreasonably searched.

No drugs were found, so the dog must have alerted to drug residue on the money sealed up in insulated bags? Oh, please.

So, the Highway Patrolman calls the drug warriors to seize the money, and lets the driver go.

This sort of thing stinks. It makes me less Proud to Be An American.

It doesn't matter whether the money was clean (it could have been) or dirty (it might have been). The point is that the cops are almost certainly guilty of using pretext, and that is for the birds.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bush's Drill Bit -

Bush's Drill Bit -
Even some of Washington's fiercest opponents of oil drilling are thinking anew, and the politics of domestic energy production seem to be shifting. This isn't surprising with gas prices as a top-tier campaign issue. More confounding was President Bush's timidity yesterday as he tried to prod Congress into movement.
Could it be that Mr. Bush's "timidity" results from his knowing that, for reasons larger than understanding the oil business, the gasoline price issue is bogus?

Areas presently excluded from oil exploration and production should remain excluded for at least these reasons:

1) Rushing in to previously excluded or protected areas will do nothing to lower fuel prices.

2) Lowering fuel prices is not what you encourage if you are interested in development and penetration of alternatives to oil energy.

3) Humans have to stop burning stuff. Humans have to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere - have to stop making the problem worse.

Mr. McCain is correct about the need to build nuclear power plants, but his stances on a gas tax holiday and relaxing oil drilling restrictions are wrong-headed.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On the Second Amendment, Don't Believe Obama!

The heading of the email I got from the NRA today (I'm a member) is: On the Second Amendment, Don't Believe Obama! The message is
The presidential primary season is finally over, and it is now time for gun owners to take a careful look at just where apparent nominee Barack Obama stands on issues related to the Second Amendment. During the primaries, Obama tried to hide behind vague statements of support for "sportsmen" or unfounded claims of general support for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

But his real record, based on votes taken, political associations, and long standing positions, shows that Barack Obama is a serious threat to Second Amendment liberties. Don't listen to his campaign rhetoric! Look instead to what he has said and done during his entire political career.
But... but, I've been sending the Obama campaign a bit of of my paycheck. I wear an Obama t-shirt and I have an Obama sign posted outside my house. Oh my God, I'm so confused!

I think Obama probably has but a tiny sliver of the NRA vote. Maybe I'm the only one - who knows?

Obama and the Democrats are my choice this time around, but more as the evil of two lessers than because I'm in their camp. I'm an independent who wants the Republicans severely punished, possibly executed, because of how badly the Republicans have fucked things up over the past decade and more. (Actually, it took two to tango, and ultimately it's We the People who are to blame. But that leaves nobody at whom to lash out. The Republicans have been the worst part of the mess, so I'm most furious with them at the moment.)

I want to see the Republican party hiding in a deep cave with a heavy load of rock salt deeply embedded in their asses. I don't want them coming out again until it's time to do the same damned thing to the Democrats.

Obama is not going to champion gun rights, he's not going to advance drug reform, he's not going to push nuclear energy, he's not going to modernize the nuclear arsenal, he's not going to champion population control. He probably will take us into stupid treaties banning land mines and cluster bombs. On the other hand, we'll probably wind up with better approaches to energy efficiency and health care, and we'll be more likely to see a diminution in the influence of "Washington lobbyists" under an Obama administration.

In my fantasies, Obama emerges as a real patriot and a great leader who places party interests in a distant second or third place behind national interests. I hope he turns out to be the sort of leader who will put the news you don't want to hear squarely in your face, and who earns the admiration of the citizenry for having done so.

Though he seems to be a man of deep religious faith, I think he's far less likely to indulge moralizing authoritarians than any Republican. Sure, he had a controversial pastor, but the controversy was manufactured. There wasn't anything wrong with Obama's pastor, especially compared to the clowns McCain has had to distance himself from lately.

I'd like to be an enthusiastic supporter, but really, I just want to punch someone. Screw the Republicans.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Department of Peace - McCain’s McClellan Nightmare - Readers' Comments - The New York Times

McCain’s McClellan Nightmare - Readers' Comments - The New York Times:
4) Now that we have lost 4000 americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, trillions of dollars, and all respect in the world, can we please discuss the creation of a Department of Peace, whose role it will be to not fight every point, but to seek out any and all diplomatic responses to issues, even if we don't follow them. It would seem, given the clear consequences of not having anyone to challenge our leaders, that setting up a department designed to seek alternative methods might be necessary.

I think it was from Kurt Vonnegut that I first heard the idea for a Department of Peace. I think it's a good idea.

I'd establish a cabinet-level Department of Peace, and then demote the Defense and State Departments to that reporting structure.

Second, I'd establish a doctrine under which, if there's no way out of fighting a war, it is fought decisively. No fucking around.

In my dreams...

By the way, the column that prompted the comment which, in turn, prompted this post, is an example of why Frank Rich is one of my favorite columnists.