Wednesday, May 27, 2009
My head is still spinning, but needless to say it was a surprise. Forgive me if the posts slacken (or take a slightly more cynical tone) as I join the long unemployment lines, and try to find work to get me through.
Thank God we elected Obama, or I'd be in much worse shape.
I mostly agree with Fred Kaplan that the recent missile test by North Korea consists of nothing more than their usual "hey look at me!!!" Because they don't have oil supplies to threaten cutting off, their only real method of international attention from free states is to lob a couple large pieces of steel into the lower atmosphere with the pretenses that said steel could in the future contain nuclear material.
What is interesting about North Korea developing nukes is the same thing that makes a nuclear-armed Iran interesting: it poses little or no direct threat to the United States. Although there are several nations now that are nuclear armed, only a couple have ICBM capability, that is, the ability to launch a nuke from Siberia and have it detonate in New York. The most distant enemy Iran could strike would be Israel. The most distant enemy that North Korea could strike is probably no one. Possibly Japan, but doubtful.
However, China has expressed before that they don't like their underlings in the South Sea to get mischievous, and it'll be interesting to see how China responds to any increasing jabs by North Korea. Best we just stay out of this one and let the Commies sort it out amongst themselves.
The brilliance of Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is clearest to me as a lose-lose for the Republican party. The way I see it, they cannot possibly risk going after her because risk angering and alienating both the Hispanic vote as well as women. They cannot go after her without looking like a bunch of rich, angry white guys going trying to protect their status quo of priviledge.
But that seems to be exactly what they are doing.
So the way I see this, it is a brilliant move for Obama, because whether or not Sotomayor gets seated, Obama wins. If the Republicans were to succeed at preventing her appointment, Obama can paint himself a victim of evil, racist old white men who don't respect women or minorities. My generation will revile them. Women will revile them. Hispanics and blacks will revile them. If the Republicans kowtow now and let her get nominated, or she gets seated despite their "best" efforts, then the Dems win through basically the same avenue as if she hadn't been seated.
But really I think the genius here is if the Republicans foolishly succeed in preventing her appointment. Oh what a brilliant moment that'd be, as the Republican party reaches new lows of stupidity. Then Obama's next nominee might breeze through the vetting and seating process. I just can't emphasize enough how much damage the Republican party is doing to itself here. It's clear to anyone with half a brain that any "racist" comments that Sotomayor made 6 years ago at the University of California is just one sentence amongst thousands she has made, and shouldn't she be judged not on her vocal words, but rather on the written judgements and decisions she made as a judge? Will this not backfire, when the uberpublican talking heads say completely mental things about Sotomayor, and the Dem media machine quietly records them and puts them on display for independents, young adults, and minorities to read and fume upon?
The Republican party almost seems bent on its own destruction, their political blunders in the last 24 months have been mostly comical, sometimes scary, and unendingly sad.
Fighting the Sotomayer nomination is a colossal mistake.
In Freddie's post we find the sad lament that the inevitability of homosexual equality may not exist; however, since his November post more states have ratified laws legalizing gay marriage, and hope shines eternal.
In the comments to Freddie's post, I argued this:
You argue that telling someone whom they cannot marry is as absurd as telling them they cannot drink from a certain water fountain, but I disagree. Would you find it so absurd if I told you that you cannot marry a panda bear?
Though I disagree with Prop 8 ideologically, and I am not anti-gay, I am anti-marry-whatever-tickles-your-fancy, and the temporary ban on gay marriage imposed by Prop 8 will hopefully allow legislators to properly define what a civil union is, making gay marriage more acceptable to some conservatives who blanche at the marriage free-for-all that would have otherwise been inevitable.
Occasional guest writer (and intellectual property lawyer) Adam sent me his thoughts:
It's not gay marriage, but the word marriage that I want banned. Civil unions between any couple should be legal. I have no problem with that. The word Marriage is a religous term. The United States was founded with freedom of religion as one of the main pillars of its foundation. Therefore, religion was thought to be excluded from our laws and regulations. Marriage is religious and those who argue for keeping it always argue, "it is my belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman" Belief, hmm. So basically their argument is based on "in my religion, same sex marriage should be banned." That is a bad argument under the U.S. constitution. I really think that the U.S. and state Constitutions should abandon the term 'marriage' and adopt 'Civil Union' and allow same sex and opposite sex civil unions.Adam is hyperbolizing of course, banning words isn't his goal and he isn't the Thoughtpolice. His point, however, is valid. The United States requires documentation of marriages for the sole purpose of legalizing the tax implications brought about by that marriage. It also legalizes the protection from testifying against one's spouse in a court of law, and legalizes the spouse as the (unless otherwise enumerated) primary benefactor in the case of a person's untimely demise.
But I want to go a step further and suggest that upholding Prop 8 is a good idea...for now. In my perfect world, a human being goes to the institution or religious facility of their choice with their lover and the two unite in whatever type of ceremony is required by their own personal religious (or non-religious) doctrine. They sign their civil union license under the watchful eye of witnesses, and that civil union license becomes the legal documentation of the union. However, the term "civil union" has been clearly defined as between two human beings (of a minimum certain age decided by the state in which they marry) who both consent to the agreement.
Until the "civil union" term has been clearly defined as clearly the term "marriage" is, then I am hesitent to invite a marriage free-for-all into existence here or anywhere. It only takes a slick lawyer and the ACLU a few months to pull together a good argument that a man who has lived with his dog for 8 years constitutes a civil union and common law marriage...I mean, they love each other, don't they? They've lived together for the required number of years, haven't they?
Only if we define a "civil union" as a compact between two human beings can I fully endorse it.
Friday, May 22, 2009
This is officially the Five Hundredth Post I have published on here since I began less than a year ago. As such, I felt there should be some mild significance to it.
So bear with me, but I want to tell a story. Actually two stories. The point of these stories is that humans are social animals, and alone in my cube, day after day, this blog, and the blogs I read off the right-hand column, have been my social connection to the world of like-minded individuals.
Story one: About two weeks ago I was in the bathroom here at work, sitting on the toilet. The bathroom is arranged such that there are two stalls and two urinals. I was in the handicapped stall, unable to see anyone else who was entering and leaving. Someone entered, and I heard them walk up to one of the urinals. When, a few seconds later, they cleared their throat, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was Mike, who, I thought to myself, must have come down from the fourth floor to use the restroom down here on the third floor. Moments later, I exited the stall and washed my hands, while Mike washed his.
Story two: Last night when I was driving my wife and me home from a meeting, we passed a man jogging. He was jogging away from us, and I could not see his face. However, something about the way he ran tripped something in my brain, and I thought to myself "I went to junior high with a kid two years older than me who ran just like that. We went to different high schools, however. I saw him once when I was a sophomore in high school, walking then." As Mrs. TAE and I passed the runner, I turned back to see his face. It was, in fact, my peer from junior high.
What is remarkable about these two events is not that I have an amazing memory. I am not known for memorizing textbooks, or faces, or names. I am an intelligent person, and fared well on standardized tests, but as far as memory goes, I'd put myself no higher than the 80th percentile.
And yet I was able to recognize Mike's throat clearing (having probably never heard it) because I know his voice amongst the ~30,000 different people I have met or heard the voice of in my lifetime. I was able to recognize the gait pattern of a man I had not seen in 12 years, and had not seen run in 15.
This leads me all to the conclusion that the human brain is a remarkable, bizarre social memory device unlike any seen elsewhere in the universe. The old saying "how can the zebras tell each other apart?" may have credence here, because its just as likely they can't. They only need to recognize one zebra a year, their progeny, and once it is fully grown they can easily forget it along with the others. Zebra can live in a world where there is only "me," "not me," "food," "not food," and "predator." Social animals, however, tend to have stronger memories for identifying one another, like male lions being able to tell, by smell alone, his cubs from his rivals, even though he has spent little or no time with the cubs.
But humans have taken this to a whole new level: language. We've evolved a tongue and mouth capable of orating an infinite number of different sounds, many of which we have deliberately organized into several thousand current and past languages. Amongst those languages, there are countless dialects, and accents. We have developed a method to leave marks (words) on objects to transmit communication to others. We have even learned how to communicate with each other using electricity. We have evolved a brain capable of discerning not only thousands of different voices, but being able to detect emotions within the verbalization of those voices.
And not just verbal and written communication, but physical traits of humans have become communication tools, and we've evolved to recognize them, even over time, as in the case of my junior high peer whose running gait I still recognize. We've evolved the mental capacity to detect one human's shape and facial structure from another, and from that, though risque to mention, we evolved the ability to better detect differences amongst our own race much better than amongst other races, which leads inescapably to the conclusion that human social interaction evolved our incredible skills to discern individuals in a small population of humans, but it would seem that proto-humans required little need to detect the differences between two individuals from outside that small population. The human mind, it appears, is much better at recognizing "us" than "them".
However, this is something easily overcome, yet adding further evidence to the pile of examples of ways the plasticity of the brain's social center is remarkable. Spend a lot of time with people from another race, and suddenly you learn to recognize them as easily as you formerly recognized your own. Your brain, it would seem, has adopted a new tribe.
And is it any surprise that the methods that most effectively teach preschool kids to think critically are similar to the methods the elderly use to keep their failing minds sharp? Are these likely derivatives of the organizational methods proto-humans used to successfully develop their communication skills?
Let me put it this way: if a group of proto-humans wanted to go hunting, how to plan where each hunter would be positioned, what each hunter's job was, and what to do in case of changed plans? Then when changes of the plan occurred during the hunt, how could the hunters quickly broadcast the plan changes to one another? And after the hunt, how best to review the ups and downs of the hunt, and exchange ideas about why the hunt succeeded or failed?
The answer to all these is communication. Through communication, the human animal claimed its spot atop the food chain. Through communication, humans stopped being animals and became...well...human.
The article suggests, as does the research, that many of the people in the community keep their memories sharp by playing bridge with one another every day. Now, ignoring that bridge is a really boring game and I hate it, I think this is significant, because it immediately reminded me of toddler and preschool education techniques known as "High/Scope" developed by Jean Piaget in the 1960's, which has been tested and proven time and time again as a good way to teach young children to read, write, think, and plan effectively.
One of the major structural techniques of High/Scope is the Plan-Do-Review concept. Children gather with the teacher, who gives them a basic idea of their next activity. Children are then encouraged to plan their own individual way of executing the project, like if they are told "now let's all paint something", the children might then each be asked "what are you going to paint? What colors are you going to use?"
The children then do their activity, be it painting, role-playing, building, singing, writing...anything. At the end of do time, the children clean up their projects and gather back with the teacher, who then asks them questions about their projects, and even asks them what they think of each other's projects. This constitutes review time, where the children learn to recall, analyze and discuss their and their peers work, as well as plan for the next time they do a similar activity.
How is this any different than old people playing bridge? Bridge is a difficult card game where four people work in two pairs to defeat the other pair.
Plan time would constitute the initial analysis of the cards. The player then "plans" how many tricks they can take and makes a bid based on that plan. They also plan how they will work with their partner, whose cards they cannot see, based on how aggressively they and their partner both bid.
Do time would be the actual execution of a round, where players work with each other, try desperately to remember which cards have been played, and basically try to earn as many, if not more, tricks as they bid plus their partner's bid.
Review time is immediately after the round, when the four players talk about, and analyze the round, discussing a specific trick, or the players that might have bust, etc. They also discuss, based on their score, their plan to win, or their plan to crush the opposing partnership.
Well, you get the basic idea. So when I read that article, it came as no surprise to me that following the basic model of a highly successful toddler/preschool education program that develops critical thinking skills and prepares children for Kindergarten would also work as a successful method for the elderly to retain those very skills. But in this case the painting of preschoolers has become card games for the elderly.
This unfairly paints the professional landscape as incredibly bleak and terrible. Though some sectors of the job industry, namely finance and journalism, are no doubt hurting, I believe they have severely weighted the average against other industries that are either still hiring, or even hiring aggressively.
What percentage of college grads were trying to join the finance bubble back in 2005-2007? How many were getting hired? The answer is "tons."
Whereas, engineering, health care, basic science, and a few other career paths have held relatively steady during the downturn. Medtronic recently announced ~1800 layoffs in the healthcare industry...but those layoffs were mostly blamed on stiffer competition from other companies (who have been aggressively hiring engineers, doctors, and scientists since 2003), and not blamed on the recession hurting business. The market doesn't control human health.
Journalism has taken a heavy hit as well, partially because the recession has killed advertising revenue, and partially because online content is effectively shelling the Fortress of Print. A couple years ago, the journalism "bubble" hadn't popped.
Anyway, before the newsman tells college students that their futures are dim, they should think about what they should say. Perhaps instead of "only 1 in 5 college grads has a job after graduating" they could say "only 1 in 10 business majors has a job waiting for them after graduation, but more than 50% of engineering majors find work within 3 months." Not only would this provide incentive to undecided major undergrads to pursue degrees in the basic sciences and engineering, but it would not mislead and depress the populace.
Slid quietly into the afternoon of May 27th is a session that caught my eye: "Exoskeletons for Assisting and Enhancing Human Locomotor Performance: Engineering, Biomechanics, and Physiological Considerations."
The session is being led by Dr. Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT. Dr. Herr runs the biomechatronics lab at MIT, a place where orthotics are born.
However, the exoskeleton work appears to be a new initiative at MIT, for the section of their website about it is still listed as "coming soon." Disappointing.
Nevertheless, this reinforces my belief that no one has the nerve to work on the hand. The leg, specifically the knee, is a 1 degree of freedom axis of rotation with essentially 4 muscles controlling it. The forearm and hand, in comparison, has 16 degrees of freedom (more depending on your argument) and over 23 different muscles to control it, plus more muscles to isolate the wrist.
However I don't think the arm is too complex to augment with an exoskeleton. I just think we need to think harder.
Further, working on individual parts of the body is great, and necessary, but until we develop "whole-body" powered suits, more like the SARCOS suit, then we are not really getting anywhere.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I don’t have a problem with the fact that Barack Obama says “Pah-kee-stahn” when referring to the country to the west of India. Nor do I have a problem with the fact that Obama says “Afghanistan” in the customary American manner. But given that the two countries are adjacent to one another and often come up in the same speech, it’s really infuriating to see him offer the two pronunciations in tandem. If you’re going to say “Pah-kee-stahn” you should say “Af-gah-nee-stahn” and if you’re going to say “Afghanistan” you should say “Pakistan.”
That’s just how I feel.
That's true. And I'm happy he says it, because it reminds me that one of the major problems in the Periodic Table of Elements is that the 17 column, the halogens, has a serious pronunciation issue. The elements, reading top to bottom, are Flourine (pronounced floor-een), Chlorine (pronounced cloor-een), Bromine (pronounced bro-meen), Iodine (pronounced...wait a second...aye-oh-dine???), and Astatine (pronounced as-tah-teen).
So all the halogens end with "ine" and all but one of them end with the pronunciation sound "een". What's the deal with Iodine?
On such a small device there is little room for batteries, sensors or transmitters. So the solar cell on top delivers power, sending an electric current to both a sensor and a communication circuit. The communication component sends tiny electromagnetic pulses that are detected by an external computer. The sensor meanwhile detects surrounding pH levels–the higher the pH concentration, the faster the electromagnetic pulses emitted by the micro-machine.
The external computer uses these signals to direct a swarm of about 3,000 magnetically-sensitive bacteria, which push the micro-machine around as it pulses. The bacteria push the micro-machine closer to the higher pH concentrations and change its direction if it pulses too slowly. This is more practical than trying to attach the bacteria onto the micro-machines, says Martel, since the bacteria only have a lifespan of a few hours. “It’s like having a propulsion engine on demand,” he says.
This is all well and good until the robots start replicating.
In Science Fiction (and in science, but less popularly so) there is a term called Grey Goo. The fundamental idea is this: if someone were to create a tiny little autonomous robot whose function was simply to replicate itself as many times as possible, as fast as possible, using whatever materials are nearby, then the robot could consume the earth in 6 days.
The math is fairly simple: 2^X = Armageddon, where X is the time it takes to consume the earth.
X is somewhere between 3 and 6 days, depending on the machine's replication time. Ideally, you want the machine to replicate once a minute.
The term grey goo comes from "Earth, when viewed from space, had been reduced to a spherical blob of grey goo" in the original incarnation. I don't want to delve on this, other than to say that it's highly implausible, considering the high temperatures found at the center of the earth.
What I do want to point out is that using machines to create bacterial propulsion is very novel and very pointless.
And what about my great idea to seed Mars with genetically modified thermophilic bacteria from hot springs under the ocean floor.
Build a bacteria that takes iron oxide and reduces it to pure iron while releasing oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3). The bacteria would use solar energy as its reducing mechanism. The bacteria would slowly blanket Mars via windstorms, cleaning the surface of the planet of its rusty colored dust, while filling the atmosphere with oxygen and ozone, thickening the atmosphere and preparing it for human colonists.
Simultaneously, deep space probes would be used to steer comets at Mars, peppering it's surface with water. Mars polar ice caps would melt. In 50 or 100 years, the planet could be basically habitable. And equipment used on Mars to build colonies would never rust, courtesy the rust-eating bacteria used to terraform the planet.
TAE: This is the first time I've heard a Republican actually refer to Republican activities circa 200-2008 as "mistakes". However, I am still waiting to hear a Republican apologize for anything.
Michael Steele: (in February) "My bad."
TAE: WHAT A HEARTFELT APOLOGY!!!
Keep putting Dick Cheney on the television, and then explain to me how the GOP is focused on the future.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So what about California? A reader asks. Ummm, that's a tough one. No, wait, it's not: California is completely, totally, irreparably hosed. And not a little garden hose. Their outflow is bigger than their inflow. You can blame Republicans who won't pass a budget, or Democrats who spend every single cent of tax money that comes in during the booms, borrow some more, and then act all surprised when revenues, in a totally unprecedented, inexplicable, and unforeseaable chain of events, fall during a recession. You can blame the initiative process, and the uneducated voters who try to vote themselves rich by picking their own pockets. Whoever is to blame, the state was bound to go broke one day, and hey, today's that day!
If Uncle Sugar bails out California, California will not fix its problems. Perhaps you want Obama to make it fix the problems, using the same competence, power, and can-do spirit with which he has repaired all the holes in the banking and auto manufacturing sectors. But Obama is not in a good position to do this. California Democrats are a huge part of his governing coalition. All Obama can do is shovel money into the bottomless pit of California's political system.
California will go bankrupt, muni and state debt will spike, the federal government will backstop humanitarian programs and very possibly all state and local debt, and eventually, California will figure out whether it wants higher taxes or lower spending. But we will not actually make the world a better place by enabling the lunatics in Sacramento to pretend they can have both.
What Megan is forgetting here is that almost every state in the Union is negatively balanced, and relies every year on Federal money to keep them solvent. Maybe California is much, much worse than Kansas, which is worse than Utah, or whatever. And I'm not a fan of California legislature, or their wacky solutions to problems, or their economic structure, or their trying to strongarm the Federal Government on EPA regulations, or their election of an underqualified He-Man as a governor, or their gleeful participation in (and primary cause of) the housing bubble.
But let the state that is solvent cast the first stone at California. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Federal government paid $232 billion to states to help cover deficits. The 2007 Federal deficit was only $163 billion, so if the states hadn't required Federal bailout money, then the Federal government would have run a budget surplus!
If the Federal government allows California to go bankrupt by denying them Federal dollars, it should deny all other states the same allocations.
by Adam Baumli, JD
While President Bush has made many mistakes in during his terms, his two Supreme Court appointees are probably his biggest accomplishments. These accomplishments didn’t come without an attempt at failure. Bush’s attempted appointment of Harriet Myers was an attempt to increase his popularity among female voters. We all were lucky that he was forced to remedy this mistake. The appointment of Ms. Myers did in fact fail. The reward was Justice Samuel Alito, an exceptional legal writer and a more qualified alternative.
His other appointment was John Roberts. Chief Justice John Roberts was extremely intelligent, attended Harvard Law School, Managing editor of the Law Review, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Roberts clerked for Judge Henry Friendly on the Second Court of Appeals.
When it comes to the Supreme Court, it is best for the country if you have the smartest legal minds on that court. A common misconception among people is the end result of how a case is decided, but it is the reasoning and precedence with which the opinions present which are the most important.
For example, Roe v. Wade gave women the right to have an abortion. The abortion right is miniscule, in my opinion, as to what the case really decided. The case determined that we as a society can determine when human life actually begins. Here is an example of the effect of that decision. A woman, 3 months pregnant, is assaulted and as a result, her baby dies. Can her attacker be charged with the murder of that baby? The answer is NO. The baby is not a living human now until it has reached the point of viability, which in Roe v. Wade it was determined is much time later in the pregnancy.
Chief Justice Roberts has been criticized along with Scalia, Thomas, and Alito for changing the mindset of the Supreme Court in a more Conservative approach. I will agree that the appointments of Roberts and Scalia do make our highest court more conservative. However, these appointments, I think, make the Supreme Court nearly perfect. The Supreme Court make-up is currently 4 Conservatives (Thomas, Roberts, Scalia, and Alito), 4 Liberals (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) and 1 Independent (Kennedy). The Supreme Court is as close to the make-up of the United States as it has ever been.
Here is the comment that extremely criticizes Roberts originally in an article in the New Yorker,
In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.
Here is my response. First, the author needs to read Jones v. Flowers. Roberts voted with the liberal majority to protect the individual. He voted to require that individuals be given due diligence before tax forfeiture sales. In another case, Roberts voted against the government to protect the Right to Bear Arms, the 2nd Amendment, against legislation created by the District of Columbia. Roberts voted against a school and said that a public school is not allowed to use race as a factor to decide school admissions. This case is probably my favorite case decided by the Supreme Court, even though it wasn’t really decided. It was a plurality, not a majority opinion. Roberts stated that schools cannot use race as the determining factor. He even points out (following Grutter v. Bolinger) that race can be used if it is one of many factors, just as long as it is not the deciding factor. In another famous case, Morse v. Frederick, Roberts did decide in favor of the School vs. student in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case. Roberts did not go as far as to agree with Clarence Thomas that students should have no right for Free Speech.
Continuing in response, it seems to me that Toobin disagrees with Roberts decisions, not because of who they protect, but because they are conservative. Toobin goes on to say that the make-up of America is more liberal now and the court should reflect that.
Let’s take a look at the make-up of America. 53% voted for Obama, 46% percent voted for McCain. This looks to me like America is very close to the middle of the two parties and with the addition of Roberts, the Supreme Court reflects exactly that.
If you were to relook at the quote about Roberts and switch everything to the other side, that would describe Ginsburg, Stevens, and Breyer:
In every major case since they were appointed, they have sided with the defendant over the prosecution, the condemned over the state, and the individual plaintiff over the corporate defendant. They have served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Democrat Party.
I removed the executive v. legislative cases because those branches have changed many times during these judges’ terms and in most cases, if not all, these judges have decided in favor of the Democrat side.
Roberts and Alito changed the make-up of the Supreme Court. In the past, the Supreme Court was heavily liberal (thanks to Senior Bush and some of his predecessors). Casey v. Planned Parenthood, (more abortion, an extremely liberal decision) was decided under the old court and many other decisions were very liberal (Michigan Law School allowed to use race as admissions factor, Grutter v. Bollinger). The make-up of the Supreme Court is what has changed the outcome of cases, but as I said before, it’s not just the outcome that’s important, it is the reasoning and the precedence. Roberts’s reasoning seems to me to be very sound. You can generally tell how good a Justice is by the number of majority opinions that he writes. Roberts has written most of the majority opinions since he has been on the Supreme Court. That means that the other justices who sided with it believed that what Roberts was stating was correct. I would love to go through each one of them individually, but that would take forever. Check them out and if you can find holes or flawed reasoning, by all means, discuss.
If you are truly going to attack a Supreme Court Justice, attack his opinion reasoning, not the outcome.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Honestly, do you wish for other people to die? Then you are a rotten individual. I'm no fan of Ted Kennedy. Frankly, I keep waiting to find out something positive he's done in his long tenure as a politician. But I do not wish for anyone to have brain cancer. Nor do I wish for that brain cancer to take their life. That is just...evil.
This does, however, remind me to remind you all that Senatorial term limits are a great idea.
To bring the dark lining to your silver cloud it’s still the case that as a policy matter trying to reduce fuel consumption purely through the limits of CAFE standards has some real limits. As I’ve said several times before, it would be better to have higher gasoline taxes as a complement or a supplement for tighter fuel efficiency standards. The reasons are twofold. One is that CAFE does nothing to encourage the purchase of more fuel efficient used cars except on a very long time horizon. The other, more important one, is that fuel consumption has two determinants—the fuel economy of the vehicle, and the number of miles the vehicle drives. And, clearly, different people drive different amounts. Some people’s commutes are longer than others. Some people people car pool. Some people walk or bike or use transit. And this stuff makes a difference to overall fuel consumption. Any policy that leaves this entire suite of issues off the table is distinctly sub-optimal.
I hate to pointlessly go after Matt on this one, but that really doesn't make sense. On the one hand, I can see that there is a widely understood correlation between the price of gas and the amount of travel that exists. Increase the price of gas, lower the total number of miles driven by cars in the U.S.
But lowering the amount of CO2 that cars emit is not meant as a strategy to descrease net driving. It's meant to be a strategy to make the miles driven less environmentally damaging. What Obama is doing is not attempting to clean the environment by pushing U.S. citizens out of cars and into buses and rail, he is trying to make the cars on the road cleaner.
Conversely, a tax on gas would impinge on personal economy, as evidenced by last summer's decrease in travel. A tax on gas unfairly hurts people not living near Matthew Yglesias' home in DC. Out here in the Midwest, a gas tax hurts a lot more than on the East Coast, where mass transit methods are in place. There is no practical way that mass transit could be implemented in the Midwest by 2016.
I am not accusing Yglesias of it personally, but if a decrease in gas usage via higher mileage standards results in decreased government revenue via gas tax...then an increase in gas tax would be less for the purpose of driving citizens into buses and rail, but rather as a method to shore up government tax revenue.
If the government's motive is to decrease CO2 emissions, as is suggested here, rather than to impel America to move back to cities and engage in mass transit, then a good alternative to increasing the gas tax would be to actually decrease it. This would be coupled with an increased "gas guzzler tax" which is in place in many states for cars.
Here's what I propose: Impose a gas guzzler tax on all vehicles that do not meet the CAFE standards for that year. The gas guzzler tax is added to the property tax package the citizen is required to pay to renew their tags. This would enable the government to tax people with used cars, who continue to obstinately drive their 2004 Hummer H2 despite the new CAFE mileage standard. It would also give owners the freedom to drive whatever vehicle they wanted, however much they wanted. They'd just pay a heavy penalty if that vehicle was a gas guzzler.
It would impel people to trade in their heavily-taxed, pre-2016 standard vehicle for a new one.
However, the major problem with my proposal is that used vehicles will effectively lose all trade-in value...who wants to buy a used, heavily-taxed fossil when they could as easily buy a new vehicle...? Oh wait, that's exactly what we're going for. In that case, I also propose a gas-guzzler tax on used vehicles that do not conform to CAFE standards.
One might argue that "CAFE standards are meant to be an average over the whole vehicle line, and should not penalize an individual model of vehicle if the car manufacturer increases mileage overall," but I disagree. Obama's point here is to get gas guzzling vehicles off the roads, and get people into new, safer, more Earth-friendly vehicles. That doesn't mean that he wants to get most people into cleaner cars, and let the rich keep driving their garbage truck-sized SUV's. It means all Americans should be driving cleaner cars.
Now, before the libertarians get all T'ed off at me for suggesting higher taxes, let me mention this: if we increase mileage by 30% overall by 2016, that represents over 1.5 billion barrels of gas saved in America by 2016, and is the equivalent of removing several million vehicles from the road. That translates to a sizeable decrease in demand for gasoline. Decreased demand equals decreased price. The price of gas will lower, and Americans will save money. Couple that with the fact that at current gas prices, the higher mileage cars will save the average person $2,800 over the life of the car (10 years) and you begin to realize serious savings. And if you are in one of these new cars, you don't pay the gas guzzler tax anyway.
And when we all stop driving the gas guzzler vehicles, that tax disappears, the government no longer has the revenue, and the government must decrease in overall size. This is like a libertarians dream!
Last but not least, I would suggest we all consider that not only are high mpg cars cheaper to operate, but they are typically smaller than our current vehicle fleet, and therefore usually have a lower sales price = lower monthly payment.
In short, everyone wins. Except me, because it just puts another roadblock between me and my Hummer HX.
UPDATE: In the previous post comments, reader B-I-L suggests we let the market decide. Where is the environmental advocate in the market? If there were a market for Atlantic cod, would we fish them to near extinction? (hint: we have.) If there were a market for bluefin tuna, would we fish them to extinction? (hint: we have.)
If there were a market for gas-guzzling cars, should we just let the United States smog itself into oblivion? Or should we let the government do what "the market" is too irresponsible and short-sighted to do on its own without intervention?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Intern: Someone who will do literally whatever you want in exchange for a recommendation letter.
In the field of engineering, one could fairly reasonably argue that internships are as important, if not more important, than collegiate coursework. Good interns usually get a job offer from the company that hosted them, or get well-written rec letters that propel them to other companies. Internships help define what kind of engineer a person is going to be, either by directing them to jobs for which they should apply after graduation, or by giving them a specific skillset that makes them attractive to only a few engineering trades post-graduation.
What scares me about interns is that they are getting younger. And of course, they aren't getting younger, I am just getting older. The doe-eyed kid-terns just walked by, and I felt like an old man.
I find this view totally ludicrous.
Having grown up within a 30 minute drive of Leavenworth, I've been more than mildly aware that it is in some ways the premiere holding facility for the U.S. government's convicts. As in, you cross the FBI, you go to Leavenworth. It's mentioned in movies for a reason.
However, there is some confusion, because there are two prisons at Leavenworth. The first is the maximum security facility for military prisoners. The second, which is the current home of characters like Michael Vick, is the United States Penitentiary, which is a medium security facility (as of 2005, formerly high/maximum) that currently holds ~1900 prisoners.
The problem I have with the "concerns" that detainees be moved to Leavenworth is that it ignores the 1900 people already there. If you are dangerous enough to go to Leavenworth...then you probably are a threat to the citizens of the United States and must not be allowed to wander free. How is that any different than the definition of the detainees? Why do Kansas officials make it sound like terrorists will be wandering the streets of Kansas City?
My thesis, I guess, is that when the War Powers Act was actually honored, for example when Congress demanded Bush show justification for the 2002 Iraq Resolution, Bush responded by sending Cheney to Guantanamo to extract an al-Qaeda tie to Iraq out of the detainees there.
In case that sentence was too convoluted let me rephrase:
I believe the reason for the Bush Administration's torture policy was in order to provide the "just war" evidence in order to satisfy the War Powers Act.
Doesn't it make sense that Bush, for whatever reason, decided to go after Saddam, then, when Congress actually honored the WPA wording requiring clear justification for the President's military action, Bush made a desperation move and attempted to extract the required evidence from detainees?
The point I am going for here is that if the CIA, or anyone else, cannot produce evidence tying al-Qaeda to Iraq (in sufficient quantity to justify the invasion), then according the the War Powers Act, former President Bush has broken the law, and contracted the United States into an illegal war. For that he should be prosecuted. For the 4,000 dead American G.I.'s, and for the billions (trillions) of taxpayer dollars illegally spent in Iraq.
Personally, the idea that torture is okay offends and disappoints me. It's like cheating. To me, torture is like when you are playing trivial pursuit and you get a question about which you know nothing, but instead of just going "dang, your turn" instead you grab the wrist of the person and demand they let you see the card, and you randomly select an answer off the back of the card and announce that is the answer, give yourself another wedge, and take another turn. And then wonder why the other players despise you.
Or perhaps torture is so awful to me because it reminds me of the crowd standing around Jesus while he is up on the cross, taunting him as he suffers.
Or perhaps torture is so awful to me because I am an evolutionist and I know that our species, despite being the only one to harness the power of the atom, is also the only one to have evolved methods for torture. Show me the species of ant that captures enemy ants (they do that) and takes them to a secure location (they do that too) and then tortures the enemy ants to reveal the location of their food source (they don't do that).
I think Jesse (The Mind) Ventura summed up my thoughts best:
I probably just eliminated any chance of ever running for office as a Republican by saying that. But it need be said.
Jesse Ventura: I would prosecute every person who was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it, I would prosecute the people that ordered it, because torture is against the law."
Larry King: You were a Navy SEAL...
Jesse Ventura: Yes, and I was waterboarded [in training] so I know... It is torture...I'll put it to you this way: You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Star Trek was very good, and I think Mrs. TAE may have been converted to a Trekkie. Unfortunately for her, the other movies aren't nearly so action packed.
The opening scene involving a baby birth and paternal death moved me to tears, and it reminded me how strong my bond is with my own child.
I was very disappointed, however, that the woman cast as Uhura looked like she had an eating disorder. Like, imagine Beyonce minus 30 lbs. The original actress who played Uhura was an attractive, full-figured woman, and I found the Twiggie-ness of the updated Uhura distracting and disappointing. Young Kirk's hypermasculinity was also weird, as TOS Kirk was a ladies-man, but not so much that he made James Bond look celibate.
I was impressed with Eric Bana's acting skills, that man is a versatile and talented actor.
***SPOILER ALERT! STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW PART OF THE MOVIE PLOT.
I found a major issue with the "red matter" that was used to open black holes and worm holes. The plot is explained that upon the detection of the supernova, the Vulcans built a ship and gave it a big globule of "red matter" that could be used to stop the supernova from destroying Romulus. When Spock arrives at Romulus, too late to stop the planetary destruction, he uses a mere droplet of the giant (approximately 1 meter across) globule of "red matter" to stop the supernova. A black hole is opened and Nero and Spock are sent back in time. Nero captures Spock's vessel, including the massive globule of "red matter" and decides to use the "red matter" to destroy every Federation planet. A single droplet of "red matter" is enough to destroy the planet Vulcan.
This begs the question: if a single droplet of red matter was sufficient for Spock to accomplish his mission of stopping the supernova...then why did the Vulcan's place the massive globule of it in his ship? What purpose could the rest of the globule have had, other than as a plot device to enable Nero to exact his revenge via planetary destruction? Had it been mentioned that "a large quantity of red matter was sent with Spock, becuase the power of the red matter was not fully known" or somesuch, then all would be well. But Spock knew the exact amount of "red matter" to extract and inject into the supernova.
Or did he? Spock used a tiny droplet of the "red matter", and not only was it sufficient to stop the supernova but it also opened the black hole that sent Nero and Spock to the past...could it be that the single droplet Spock used was actually too much? If that is the case, it just further emphasizes just how ludicrous it was for the Vulcans to fill Spock's ship with a massive quantity of it.
Let me put it another way: if the single droplet Spock used was enough to cancel a supernova and open a stable black hole with what appeared to be 1 mL of the substance, and the total quantity Spock had in his vessel was about 1 meter across, that figures to be about half a million mL...that's enough to open a galaxy sized black hole. Fortunately, not all the "red matter" is used all at once...
OH WAIT, IT IS! Young Spock flies the elder Spock's vessel into a collision with Nero's massive vessel, detonating the remaining "red matter." Somehow the black hole opened by the massive globule of "red matter" is still the same size as the black hole opened by the single droplet elder Spock used.
I understand we are arguing trivialities here, and it was a fictional work, so I should just let it go. But when writing novels, you must shore up your plot holes, because people have time to put the book down, think about it, and analyze it. Too often in movies plot holes are gotten away with simply becuase the viewer doesn't have enough time to analyze what is going on, and the action/love/comedy scenes make you forget that what just happened was utterly illogical.
Possibly, "red matter" is a play on red mercury, a fictional substance some conspiracists claim is a necessary (but secret) ingredient in large-scale nuclear weapons. Read all about it, it is interesting stuff.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Bear with me, but what if cocaine was legalized? Conservatives and progressives alike will acknowledge that prohibiting a thing leads to black markets.
The black markets in drugs mean the costs of doing business are higher—but that means so too are the profits. These profits (and turf) are protected violently by gangs and drug cartels. Gang culture is built around said profits. Remove the profits through legal competition and the gangs fade away eventually (just as they did after alcohol prohibition was repealed). Yes, there will be secondary social costs. Yes there will still be petty crime due to addicts—despite lower-cost drugs. But you can offset those social costs by taxing the product to build rehabilitation centers, which are preferable to building more prisons and morgues. You get credibility points for admitting that people have a right to do what they like with their bodies. Freedom is freedom, warts ‘n’ all.
To me, this is an appealing argument. But radical solutions like this fall into the "never get done" category because you get the following two statements, one from each side of the aisle:
1. This new plan will expose our children to legalized drugs, and that is an unacceptable risk. We cannot change to this new system.
2. The current war on drugs is a total abject failure and children are dying from violence and addiction. We must adopt a radical and new policy to succeed.
So you get the people that on one hand won't abandon the status quo because a new plan is too risky, but you've got the people on the other hand who think the status quo is so bad that a new policy must be adopted. In which hand you stand depends entirely on your own personal experiences.
In science we see this every day. Embryonic stem cell advocates say the potential cures for diseases that could be produced from embryonic stem cells is justification enough for their use. But pro-lifers say that the current lines of stem cells, as well as research into turning adult skin cells into stem cells, or what have you, is better because of preservation of life.
Or take space travel. You have people like Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, who think humanity's survival depends on us leaving this planet and colonizing the stars. Then you have people like me, who think humanity's survival depends on us stopping our pointless (and expensive) skyward daydreaming and spending more time fixing the planet we've already colonized. I'm interested in fixing the status quo, Hawking prefers new and radical.
Maybe what I'm describing is the endless seesaw from which compromise arises. The problem with compromise, however, is that usually no one ends up happy.
Choosing Olivia Wilde over Megan Fox for this year's number on in the annual Maxim Hot 100 is the equivalent of:
1. Choosing Dr. Pulaski over Dr. Crusher
2. Choosing a black hole over a worm hole.
3. Choosing DNA over RNA
4. Choosing Windows Vista over Windows XP
5. Choosing Dwight over Jim
I think you get the point.
Andrew muses about Nate Silvers' musing on the disappearance of smart people from the Republican Party.
It's never been that easy being an intellectual on the right. I spent most of my college and grad school years in mortal combat. But the degeneracy of the Republican party today makes every thinking person I know wince. It doesn't debunk conservative ideas about the failures of government solutions, the wisdom of markets, the necessity for sound money and balanced budgets, or the need for prudence in foreign policy. But the association with these debt-ridden, torture-loving, big government authoritarians is awful.
I humbly submit that conservative intellectuals formerly associated with the Republican party, like myself, have not moved to the Democrat side. We have just found new roosts.
Now, I can't speak for everyone, but many other conservatives, like my brother-in-law, have found sanctity for their conservative ideals under the wings of Ron Paul. Others I know have renamed themselves "libertarians" and learned that economic conservativism is important enough that they'll bend on gay marriage.
Most of the conservative intellectuals I know that have left the Republican party (which is most of the conservative intellectuals I know) are not calling themselves Democrats. Somehow leaving the Republican party...but not going to the Democrats...makes it seem less like betrayal and more like...an upgrade?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Reading on the web is almost certainly affecting the way we process information, but it’s not making us stupid. Instead, it’s changing the way we’re smart. Rather than storehouses of in-depth information, the web is turning our brains into indexes. These days, it’s not what you know — it’s what you know you can access, and cross reference.
Unlike Kevin Drum, I think Suderman is on to something here. Star Trek:TNG paints a pretty poignant picture here, where the crew of the Enterprise has ready access to a super-advanced computer with near-omniscient levels of information on any subject, and is capable of near-rational analysis in its ability to answer hypothetical questions. Simply put, the Enterprise crew depends on the Enterprise computer to have all the information, they simply pluck what they want from it when the time is right. The only member of the Enterprise crew that has any major body of knowledge is Data, but he basically just memorizes everything he sees.
However, the crew of the Enterprise still reads books for leisure (on devices akin to the Kindle), and they do take in the occasional non-fiction work during their reading. But in their day-to-day activities, they rely on The Computer for the facts, and they simply have been taught how to accurately ask the computer questions that allow them to access the correct facts.
Is this so different from Google and/or Wikipedia? Knowing the right search string enables the user to access specific and helpful information at incredibly fast rates. And it's not like the Enterprise crew are a bunch of morons. They know a ton of stuff! Just, they don't learn it all from books.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The article then quietly mentions that the amount found in the human body is a miniscule, almost immeasurably small concentration, several orders of magnitude lower than what the rats exposure was.
So when I was forwarded this article about the detected increase in chemicals found in the human body from household items like toothpaste and tuna, of course I was skeptical. But here's what really got me:
In the case of mercury, a known neurotoxin harmful to children's development, Lourie, who is chairman of the board of directors for Environmental Defence, reduced his exposure to the element by not eating fish for a month. Then, over a two-day period, Lourie ate tuna sandwiches for lunch and tuna sushi or tuna steak for dinner. The levels of mercury in Lourie's blood increased by 2.5 times after eating those four tuna meals over two days.
So when you fast from tuna, and your body does what it does naturally, that is, filter harmful chemicals out via the liver and kidneys...then suddenly imbibe a huge amount of that chemical, you get an increase of it in your bloodstream? How is this new science?!
A corollary experiment would be to not drink pop or tea or coffee for a month, then suddenly drink three cups of coffee, then act amazed that there is a spike in your bodies' caffeine level!
The article continues its amazing revelations:
For example, despite banishing anti-bacterial and personal care products containing triclosan from his home for a number of years, the levels of triclosan in Smith's urine stood 2.47 nanograms per millilitre before exposure; they rose to 7,180 ng/mL after exposure over a two-year period using everyday personal-care products.
The purpose of the kidneys, I am told, is to filter out the bodies' toxins and send them to the bladder in the form of urine. Some drugs, chemicals, and naturally occurring compounds are known as "one-pass" chemicals, in that the kidneys catch them as soon as they pass through there, and much of the body may never see them. Is is likely this is happening here? Is this strange molecule being detected and filtered by the kidneys with efficacy? If the increase of a toxic chemical you imbibed is detected in your urine, doesn't that mean your body is working effectively? Wouldn't it be much more disconcerting if you imbibed thousands upon thousands of nanograms of triclosan and then none of it showed up in your urine, implying it was floating about in your body doing who knows what?
I find Rick Smith's claims dubious, and based on trickery and fearmongering. Then again, "never waste a good crisis."
by Adam Baumli, JD
The new Tesla Roadster seen here is the most recent and popular all-electric automobile. This car is supposed to be super green and environment friendly. Zero emissons is one of the major selling points, but I truly believe that the zero emissions claim needs to be explained a little more. Many people make the assumption that electric cars produce no pollution. That is not the case at all. Electricity is created by a process that releases emissions and pollution. The Tesla Roadster uses this electricity. In order to power the Tesla, some pollution must occur, its just that the pollution was created by the process before it gets to the car and the car is not the thing doing the polluting.
Power plants create this electricity by varying processes. Coal and Oil power plants are the most popular right now, but it is nearly impossible to build and use new coal power plants because of the pollution that they release. Im not saying that the Tesla Roadster produces more pollution than a regular V8 sports car. I actually believe that the Roadster is more environment friendly. I would like to see statistical data and comparrisons though just to be sure. How many KW of power does the Tesla Roadster use per one cycle?
There is also another part of the Tesla Roadster that produces pollution that is never thought about. Those lithium ion battery cells that power the car eventually do not last that long, they lose their charging capacity and have to be replaced. I type this on a labtop using Lithium Ion battery cells and it is a year old, so I have to replace this battery. Where do the used up battery cells go? If we all had electric cars, that would be a ton of used batteries that would need to be disposed of. A regular automobile has to have oil chaged and drained several times each year. I want a comparrison so that I know which harms the environment more.
I really think that Hybrid automobiles are the best thing around. The combination seems the best way to keep efficiency and maximize energy. Even though it may not seem like it, I do like the fact that Tesla did build this automobile. The research and development will probably go a long way to creating a super fuel efficient automobile. I applaud them for their development and they have definitely caught my attention and my interest into purchasing an electric car. It's fast and looks really cool. Now if I can just get the $109,000 to by the thing.
Lastly, I think that the government is being ludicrous if they say that they want to spend money on alternative energy research and development, bail out (over $25 billion) American auto companies who do little if any research in that area, and yet, refuse to give $500 mil to this company who took it upon themselves to explore this alternative on their own.
TAE adds: As I often harp on this blog, corn ethanol represents a poor method for producing cheap, clean gas. A recent study found that my pet science, cellulosic ethanol made from natural prairie grass, actually yields 8-24 times as much ethanol per acre, requires one tenth the water, requires no fertilization, and needs no pesticides or herbicides. Another study, however, has found that it is more efficient and better for the environment to just burn the prairie grass in the ovens of a coal power plant, as an offset some of the coal being burned. The scientists believe that the electricity from this burnt grass could power an all-electric vehicle 7,000 miles farther before the equivalent amount of CO2 would be produced by the power plant as would have been produced through the ethanol production process.
Monday, May 11, 2009
"If there is a common enemy around which humanity can unite, it is the institutions that protect privilege for an elite network with extraordinary power and minimal accountability," Pilisuk wrote in an e-mail. "At present, hopes for peace look most promising in the decentralized myriad of creative local actions of people wanting leaders to respond to their true needs."
Taking this idea a step further, Richard Koenigsberg, a former professor of psychology at Queens College in New York City, argues that it's not governments, but the idea of countries at all that creates war.
"Warfare is linked to the human attachment to 'nations.' As long as people believe that countries are the most significant thing in the world and that 'nations have the right to kill,' then warfare will persist," he said.
Perhaps if humans come to see ourselves as residents of a single planet, rather than citizens of individual nations with specific interests, war will be unnecessary.
"War is not part of human nature," Koenigsberg told SPACE.com. "It is intimately linked to our psychic attachment to countries."
So it's possible, they argue, for people to be peaceful, if we break down society into microcosms and eliminate nations. Obviously this seems immediately impractical. But conversely, look at the Amish. They live their life in a microcosm, mostly cut off from the rest of the world, and they are imminently peaceful. Amish kids often leave the society...but many return, disillusioned by the chaos and conflict of the outside world. Gregg Easterbrook's book The Progress Paradox argues that "the better we live, the worse we feel."
In their native land fire ants form discrete colonies, with just one or a few queen ants at the center of each. This is how most ants live, but something very strange happened to the fire ants soon after they reached the United States. They gave up founding colonies by the traditional method of sending off flights of virgin queens, and instead began producing many small queens, which spread the colony rather in the way an amoeba spreads, by establishing extensions of the original body. Astonishingly, at the same time the ants ceased to defend colony boundaries against other fire ants. As Hölldobler and Wilson put it, "With territorial boundaries erased, local populations now coalesce into a single sheet of intercompatible ants spread across the inhabited landscape." This remarkable shift was caused by a change in the frequency of a single gene.
Is it possible, The Superorganism left me wondering, that the invention of the Internet is leading to a similar social evolution of our own species?
But who gets to be the queen?
But the human species is precisely not a superorganism: its Darwinian success is precisely due to that fact.
We are capable of survival and replication in extremely small single-family units, on the one hand, and enormously large conurbations on the other. This "accordion" capacity allows us to colonize, and recolonize, waste spaces but to endure, as well, the enormous crowding of supercities. Competition, not only between states but between cities, communities, and families, at all levels of social organization, distinguishes us (and other mammals) from the ants, who have laid aside competition at these lower levels in favor of unquestioning collaboration.
Update: More interesting thoughts here.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
But, for the record, my hometown boys, the Kansas City Royals, are one of a rapidly shrinking group (Toronto, Boston, Chicago Sox, LA Angels, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Kansas City) in the MLB that hasn't had a single player suspended for failing a drug test since the 2005 Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program was put in place. They went after Jose Guillen, but his suspension was later dropped.
It is this author's opinion that Boston should be removed from that list...who believes Manny only started doing drugs this season?
The real tragedy here is that Mr. Carrey has egregiously chosen to pretend to know important information that he clearly does not. The “science” his organization provides, and which he presents as being so clearly on his side, does little or nothing to actually support his claim. Indeed, the vast majority of the peer-reviewed science provided by Generation Rescue is wholly unrelated to the connection between autism and vaccinations, a question that has been asked and answered as far as the legitimate medical community is concerned.
Carrey wrote his post and appears as a spokesperson for Generation Rescue while affecting the posture of an informed and enlightened ambassador for truth. Indeed, he presents himself as an honest and concerned counter to the “pro-vaccine” agenda. But, upon review of the science actually available on Generation Rescue’s own “Autism Science” page, it becomes immediately apparent that this is a sham. Unless I am greatly mistaken, there was no discussion of the long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase enzyme in “Dumb and Dumber,” nor has Mr. Carrey publicly demonstrated a facility for describing cerebellar expression of nitric oxide synthase. Carey simply expects us to trust that the evidence supports his claim, that pediatricians and public health experts are in thrall to the vaccine industry, all the while blithely assuming that nobody will bother to sift through the science his organization has thrown at the wall like so much spaghetti. The simple (if time-consuming) act of checking what he says makes his dishonest, uninformed grandstanding apparent.
Read the whole thing.
"I thought I wanted a new era of transparency and accountability, but honestly, I just can't handle it," Ohio resident Nathan Pletcher said. "All I ever hear about now is how my retirement has been pushed back 15 years and how I won't be able to afford my daughter's tuition when she grows up."
"From now on, just tell me the bullshit I want to hear," Pletcher added. "Tell me my savings are okay, everybody has a job, and we're No. 1 again. Please, just lie to my face."
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Here, an essay describes the method by which states could petition Congress for a new Constitutional Convention (ConCon*) using Article V.
The authors quickly note that the chances of a successful vote are slim to none. And really, do we want the democratically controlled Congress to do anything to our Constitution right now?
But what I do like about the article is that they imply that states putting the motion for a ConCon on the ballot see an uptick in voters. So pointlessly (and no doubt fruitlessly) asking citizens to vote for ratification of a petition to Congress for a new ConCon is a tool that conservative candidates could potentially use to boost
*ConCon is a licensed phrase of TAE and may only be used with permission.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Still wondering why I’m here
Still wrestling with my fear
But oh, He’s up to something
And the farther on I go
I’ve seen enough to know
That I’m, not here for nothing
He’s up to something
There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans He’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet.
Adventures in deceptive article headlines always makes me mad. So when I clicked on this article claiming "scientists unveil chocolate-fueled race car" I was intrigued. "How on earth did they power an internal combustion engine with a non-explosive substance?
So when I clicked it and read "the racer runs on waste from a chocolate factory that has been turned into biofuel" aka DIESEL, I was more than a little disappointed. Thanks MSNBC for your deceptive headlines.