Friday, June 27, 2008

Farewell, George

Ran across this oldie, but goodie, again as I perused several George Carlin memoriams. Coincidentally or not, the first couple of minutes is stunningly similar to my own religious rant.

Aside from the Joe Pesci nonsense, this bit is as timeless as religion itself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Drill, Drill, Drill

Hey, I agree with W. on something.

He and McCain both want to lift the ban on off-shore drilling. This idea has been extensively criticized, but the criticisms aren't exactly logical.

The complaint that off-shore drilling won't solve our current price-of-gas problem, which is a valid point, is not reason to abandon the idea. If your financial planner advised you to save for retirement, and you rejected the idea because "it doesn't pay my credit card bill today" you would be widely recognized as an idiot who'll be bagging groceries at age 75. Yet that same logic, when applied by democratic congressmen and the media, goes unchallenged.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the world needs more oil. We need more natural gas. Sure, at some future point we'll have more cost-effective and cleaner energy, but we don't yet - so we have to keep burning those hydrocarbons. We could continue to pay foreign countries that despise us for this necessary fuel, or we could produce the stuff from our own soil. Which idea sounds better to you? This is not rocket science, but common sense.

Oh, you'll hear environmentalists screaming about oil spills and bringing up shit that happened 20 years ago. You'll hear others downplaying the amount of fuel potentially available off-shore (guess what: if you lift the ban, and no oil is found, there won't be any drilling.)

But what really matters here? In a world full of people that hate us, do you want to be completely unprepared for war? How long do you think our high-tech fighter planes and cutting-edge tanks can run without oil? I am not willing to put myself at risk - strategically and economically - to preserve the "international treasure" of our coastlines.

I want to drill for oil offshore, drill in Alaska, and drill in my backyard. That's what high prices are supposed to do in a market economy - increase supply - so that prices eventually decline again. Interference from government is the surest way to wreck a market and make life more painful for all of us.

We cannot afford to be distracted from the barbarians at our gate by short-sighted interest groups. Ask the ancient Romans how that worked out. We need to move forward on energy independence now, and one of the many ways to attack this problem is increased drilling. It won't cure all our ills, but that's not a reason to ignore it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

They're getting it wrong...again

Everyone remembers how the electoral college works, right? When a presidential candidate wins a state - by one vote or one million votes, all of that state's electors vote for that candidate. The number of electors is awarded in proportion to population, so heavily populated states like California, New York, Texas, etc. play a much larger role in the outcome than Montana or the Dakotas.

Sorry for the elementary refresher, but someone needs to remind Howard Dean and the Democrats how this thing works.

Obama finally cemented the nomination yesterday, winning the contest designed to pick a popular loser. You see, the Democrats don't award delegates like the electoral college awards electors - they give each candidate an amount of delegates proportional to the popular vote received in each state, or occasionally by district. So even though Obama performed poorly in every big, populous state that Dems need to carry in order to win the general election, he's the nominee!

Had the Democrats awarded their delegates winner-take-all by state, like the Republicans do, Hillary would have sewn up the nomination weeks ago. Had Florida and Michigan played by the rules, and not been punished by having their delegate count halved, they would have broken for Hillary (according to polls) and she would have won the election.

Instead, the Dems managed to nominate someone who lost California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and possibly Texas. For the first time in history, the nominee lost a state (West Virginia) by 40 points. (He lost two states by 30 points - also a record.)

But wait, isn't that why the Dems have hundreds of superdelegates? Party insiders who know what it takes to win an election, whose sole reason for existence is to pick the most electable candidate in a close vote? Well, they're all afraid of going against the 'will of the people', although it's debatable which of the Dems won the popular vote anyway.

Call me crazy, but if I have the chance to send one of two teams to a winner-take-all tournament, I'm going to send the one with the most wins, not the one with the best ratio of points for to points against. The Republicans figured this out long ago, and so we saw McCain assume the mantle in April instead of fighting a protracted battle against the forgettable Mitt Romney.

I'm not bitter. I would have voted for McCain either way, and the Democrats' choice makes it easier for him to win. It's just amazing to see so many smart people arrive at the same bad decision.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New data proves that global warming causes increased ice cover

When the data doesn't fit your hypothesis, it's time to pick new data.

Finally, I've seen an environmentalist admit that Antarctic ice cover has been increasing steadily for years. When Al Gore needed some dramatic footage for his Nobel-prize winning movie, he showed huge chunks of ice breaking off from the Ross shelf in Antarctica, falsely giving the impression that this bit of Antarctica represented the continent as a whole. But data has instead shown that ice is steadily spreading, and this change is much more likely to be affected by the natural cycles of ocean currents than CO2.

But instead of continuing to ignore this data, environmentalists are trying a new spin: Antarctic ice spread is caused by global warming! You see, warmer ocean temperatures cause more snow which means more ice! Logically it follows that the entire Southern Hemisphere will be covered in ice if the Earth just gets warm enough.

And just in case you don't buy this twisted bit of rationalization, the argument continues in circular fashion: Even though ice is spreading, the actual mass is not increasing. In other words, since Antarctic glaciers are in retreat (like every interglacial period in the history of the Earth), the new ice shouldn't count! And even though last winter was one of the most frigid Arctic winters on record, ice cover didn't increase so it doesn't count! The AGW boogeyman is so ubiquitous that even contradictory evidence proves its existence. When air temperatures go up, AGW is blamed. When air temperatures go down, but ice cover decreases? AGW. When ice cover increases, but glaciers retreat? You get the picture.

When an Australian student films polar bears playing safely on melting ice in August, just a few feet from the shore (polar bears are fantastic swimmers), environmental groups sensationalize and misrepresent the video to support their cause. Never mind that NASA determined Arctic ice melt is likely caused by changing wind patterns interacting with the Transpolar Drift Stream. Never mind that polar bears have already survived extensive periods of deglaciation, none of which were caused by humans.

You can choose to believe that AGW makes it colder sometimes, in some places, while it causes warmer temperatures sometimes, in other places. You can swallow the illogic that AGW is to blame for ice spread in some spots while it melts ice in others. You can pick almost any 10, 20, or 30-year period in history and extrapolate short term climactic trends into doomsday scenarios, especially when you ignore the data that doesn't fit your conclusion. Or you can accept that the climate constantly changes, in cyclical and localized ways that are not well understood nor easily predicted.