January 08, 2007

Bad News: Bees

Tests have confirmed the presence of African Killer Bees in New Orleans. The city, still recovering from Katrina, is investigating this further.

Well, how long is it before the obvious question is raised: What did Bush know and when did he know it?

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July 21, 2006

Educational Public Service Announcement

Guys, just as a heads up. If you have A&E through your cable system, you can see a two-hour documentary tonight entitled "Cleavage":

Sexy and fun, this 2-hour special surveys mankind's fascination with breasts and cleavage, from the goddesses of antiquity to today's silicone-enhanced TV and film stars. Offering their opinions on why two simple mounds of flesh have wielded such power through the ages are comedian Joan Rivers; Cosmopolitan's Helen Gurley Brown; a plastic surgeon; a female body builder; and others. Narrated by Carmen Electra.
It's scheduled for 10pm with a re-broadcast at 2am.

Hey, who isn't interested in learning "why two simple mounds of flesh have wielded such power through the ages"?

Time to broaden your minds. Set those TiVos!

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June 28, 2006

Activists Scientists Praise Gore Film?

Well, not exactly. Although the AP would like you to believe it. Yes, some "scientists" gave Gore's An Inconvenient Truth "five stars for accuracy" we need to take a closer look at this report. And the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works did just that. And they say "whoa, hold on a minute":

AP chose to ignore the scores of scientists who have harshly criticized the science presented in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the “more than 100 top climate researchers” they attempted to contact to review “An Inconvenient Truth.” AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore “five stars for accuracy.” AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore’s movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific “skeptics” they claim to have contacted.

The AP article quotes Robert Correll, the chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group. It appears from the article that Correll has a personal relationship with Gore, having viewed the film at a private screening at the invitation of the former Vice President. In addition, Correll’s reported links as an “affiliate” of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that provides “expert testimony” in trials and his reported sponsorship by the left-leaning Packard Foundation, were not disclosed by AP. See http://www.junkscience.com/feb06.htm

The AP also chose to ignore Gore’s reliance on the now-discredited “hockey stick” by Dr. Michael Mann, which claims that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century, and that the 1990’s were the warmest decade in at least 1000 years. Last week’s National Academy of Sciences report dispelled Mann’s often cited claims by reaffirming the existence of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. [my emphasis]

Dafydd at Big Lizards eviscerates the AP's claim:
This is about as self-selected a group as it's possible to compose: climate scientists who actually take Algore seriously as a spokesman for the dangers of "global warming pollution!"

(While AP is quick to note that some of those they contacted were "vocal skeptics of climate change theory," you may notice they oddly fail to mention how many of the 19 who responded to them were among those "skeptics." At a guess, I'd have to say -- zero?)

If you're a climatologist -- and even if you more or less support the IPCC position on global climate change -- how likely would you be to seek out a showing somewhere of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth? Most scientists I know cringe at such populist caricatures, even if they agree with the basic premise... especially if they agree.

Scientists tend to be irritated anyway by the depiction of science in movies, even so-called documentaries: everything from orbits that "decay," to explosions that can be "outrun," to a rotating space station that produces a gravitational-like force... directed along the axis of rotation.

But they're even more skeptical of science when the subject is controversial within the scientific community (which anthropogenic global warming certainly is) -- and in spades and doubled when the moviemaker is not himself a scientist but a politician with no formal training in any math or science beyond what he learned in high school (which, considering Algore's GPA at St. Alban's and at Harvard, was probably not very much).

Most climate scientists would steer so far away from An Inconvenient Truth, even if they supported global-warming theory, that they would probably pretend they didn't even know it existed. Those who went to pains to actively seek it out would be a special breed: scientists who were so tickled that someone as important as Albert A. Gore, jr. would make a movie about their crackpot theory, that they could hardly stop themselves from gushing.

I wish the Associated Press had thought to ask those 19 gushers who they thought had really won the 2000 election.

The very essence of scientific consensus is that every person must give an opinion; every position must be canvassed; all objections must be answered. If you contact 100 scientists and only 19% have seen some work, their opinion is not a consensus: at best, it's a sampling; but more likely, it's a biased pool that does not represent the whole. [all original emphasis]

Curt at Flopping Aces cuts to the chase:
How much you want to bet those 19 agreed with Gore before they saw the movie. Now how much you want to bet the other 81 didn’t want to see the movie because its fiction?
The enviro-scaremongers will always find fellow travelers to prop up their claims. And the antique media is only too happy to be complicit in distorting reality for those who only skim headlines and buy into this silliness...because some scientists say it's true.

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April 12, 2006

Climate Studies: A Lucrative Line Of Work

Snake-oil comes in many forms but the people who peddle it are all after the same thing: a sucker's money. Take the current alarmist trend in climate studies, particularly the focus on "global warming" and its alleged relationship to the increase of man-made greenhouse gases. One of the major reasons it gets so much attention is the funding that it brings those who scream that the sky is falling.

In today's OpinionJournal.com, Richard Lindzen, an Alfred P. Sloan Professor at MIT, explains why this has become such a big deal:

"The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions."
What's even more troubling, however, is the way those scientists who have the nerve to question all the current conventional wisdom suffer because of it. Sloan continues:
"But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
The Professor goes on to cite specific examples of this kind of thing. When you get this confluence of radical environmental groups, Left-wing politicians and academic advocates (with the MSM doing their marketing campaigns for them), you get a perfect storm that results in junk science becoming the generally accepted standard. And the biggest monetary prizes go to the ones who can sell the biggest panic to the policymakers and the taxpayers. As P.T. Barnum used to say, "there's a sucker born every minute".

***************

footnote: Thanks to the anonymous commentor below for the clarification about the column's author.

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April 10, 2006

"Global Warming" Stopped Eight Years Ago

Funny how you don't here facts like this one amid all the hysteria about this "phenomenon": Average surface tempuratures of the earth did NOT rise between the years 1998-2005.

What? Yeah, that's right. Professor Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia sifts through the fiction to bring you the facts in this piece he wrote for the UK Telegraph. Based on data collected by Climate Research Institute at the University of East Anglia, surface tempuratures have not risen higher than those recorded in 1998. Carter writes:

"In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of earth's recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn't seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long appreciated - ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How is this possible?

Since the early 1990s, the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as 'if', 'might', 'could', 'probably', 'perhaps', 'expected', 'projected' or 'modelled' - and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense."

The issue is not whether or not surface tempuratures rise and fall in a cyclical pattern. They do. But the evidence that human activity in any way affects this has never really surfaced. It's only ever been "suggested". And if you suggest something enough times, people are going to accept it as a given. That's what we have here. The general acceptance that a theory is actually reality. Actually, the patterns described above fly in the face of the idea that industrialization correlates in any way with global warming or global cooling. Carter provides some perspective for those Chicken Littles who are unable to comprehend a world that existed before they were even born:
"Two simple graphs provide needed context, and exemplify the dynamic, fluctuating nature of climate change. The first is a temperature curve for the last six million years, which shows a three-million year period when it was several degrees warmer than today, followed by a three-million year cooling trend which was accompanied by an increase in the magnitude of the pervasive, higher frequency, cold and warm climate cycles. During the last three such warm (interglacial) periods, temperatures at high latitudes were as much as 5 degrees warmer than today's. The second graph shows the average global temperature over the last eight years, which has proved to be a period of stasis.

The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming."

There are two powerful forces that push this junk science: the MSM and the Socialist-leaning Left. Neither wants to admit that nations like the United States that have a high industrial output created in a free-market economy results in the kind of high standard of living for its citizens that is the envy of the world. So any way they can try to reign in that kind of economic strength and drag it down to the mundane, mediocre, overtaxed and overregulated level of the rest of the "enlightened" nations of the planet, they'll do it.

And all the idealists around the world - and in this country - buy into the hype hook, line and sinker. And no matter what the data says, they can never be wrong. Because radical environmentalism is their religion. The opiate of the Liberal masses. If you are a non-believer, than you are a heretic and you must repent of your selfish, greedy, profligate and lazy ways. Next thing you know, they'll be handling snakes. Green ones.

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April 04, 2006

Real Life "Armageddon" Scenario

Only with thirty years notice and, hopefully, no assistance from Ben Affleck.

Dear NASA: Get you asses in gear, please!

h/t: The Corner

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April 03, 2006

Be Skeptical, Be Very Skeptical

Last week's cover of Time:

Time.jpg

Scaring people must drive circulation up. What other reason would there be to waste time on an unproven theory? George Will reminds us that it was only about thirty years ago that these same "experts" had nothing but dire warnings for the coming Ice Age:

While worrying about Montana's receding glaciers, Schweitzer, who is 50, should also worry about the fact that when he was 20 he was told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling. Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Science Digest (February 1973) reported that "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age." The Christian Science Monitor ("Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect," Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers "have begun to advance," "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter" and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975) that meteorologists "are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said "may mark the return to another ice age." The Times (May 21, 1975) also said "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" now that it is "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."
Are surface tempuratures rising by a percentage of a degree? Sure. But then the rising and falling of surface temperatures is a phenomenon that has been recorded since...well since they've been recording surface temperatures. That is an empirical and undeniable fact. Ten years from now we'll probably be back on the "global cooling" thing. And once again the "experts" will be saying it's our fault.

The forces of nature are mightier than anything humans can dish out. Until someone somewhere can come up with some undeniable proof that human activity is in any way linked to this natural process, I remain skeptical...very skeptical.

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March 02, 2006

I Don't Believe In Chelation Therapy

On to a serious subject here. I write this as a parent of three children who have been diagnosed with autistic-spectrum related disorders. There has been a lot written about what appears to be an epidemic of Autism these days. Many have speculated as to the specific causes, none have been proven. I personally feel it's a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors combined with an ever-broadening diagnostic criteria. Hopefully, one day, medical science will figure it out.

One therapy de jour that has become popular (and is very expensive) is called Chelation. This therapy operates under the premise that Autistic-related disorders are caused primarily by the mercury in Thimerosal, a preservative that was used in childhood vaccinations. Those who offer "Chelation" therapy claim that it removes the mercury and - over time - will "cure" the condition.

Look, I understand the pain, anger and frustration that parents of a child with autism feel. I understand it three times over. I have nothing but empathy for these folks who desperately want to do anything they can to find a cure. But having researched this myself, the evidence is overwhelming to me that Chelation is at best a scam and at worst an even greater threat to the child's health. You can find plenty of sources on the internet that debunk the claims about Chelation including sites here and here.

I've avoided this subject because I know there is a lot of hostility out there for those who question it. Politics is one thing, but this is personal. I was always doubtful about Chelation but the best evidence I have against the validity of the Thimerosal claim is one simple fact: The last lot of thimerosal-containing vaccines expired in January 2003. My youngest son, who has been diagnosed with mild "classic" autism, the most severe condition of the three boys, was born in June 2003. If the claims of the Thimerosal crowd are valid, then the incidences of diagnosed autistic-spectrum disorders should now be plummeting. Since this didn't happen in countries like Canada and Denmark who mandated removed of Thimerosal from vaccines back in the 1990's, I'm highly skeptical it will happen in the U.S. now.

What spurred this post was something related to me by Orac at Respectful Insolence. He has written extensively on the subject and he recently came across a story that shows how this Chelation movement has gotten even more bizarre. I urge anyone who has even a passing interest in this topic to read it in full. It's an eye-opener.

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February 22, 2006

70% Of Oceans "Shark-Free"

That's the good news. The bad news is that most of that 70% consists of areas at depths below 6,500 feet. There are, however, plenty of sharks in the other 30% of the oceans. You know, where human beings like to swim.

It had been hoped that, as man explored deeper into the abyss, new shark species would be discovered. Scientists do not know why sharks are absent from the deep, but suggest one possible reason might be a lack of food.

They warn their finding has environmental implications. Professor Monty Priede, director of Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said: "Sharks are already threatened worldwide by the intensity of fishing activity, but our finding suggests they may be more vulnerable to over-exploitation than was previously thought."

So as time goes by there are fewer and fewer sharks that could potentially bite off one of my extremeties. I consider that a good thing.

Environmental implications? Sharks eat people. What am I missing here?

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January 11, 2006

Five More Minutes!

Finally, a study that makes sense. Sleep researchers have found that the our brains are so impaired by sleep intertia when we wake up that this state can be credibly compare to the effects of having stayed up all night or having a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.

I need to print this out and have the Mrs. read this. She's always busting my chops that it takes me so long to get out of bed in the morning.

Hey, when you go to sleep at night do you conk out as soon as your head hits the pillow? Of course not! Falling asleep is a gradual process. So why shouldn't waking up be thought of in the same way? It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I can't just bound out of bed and start singing a happy tune like I'm in some musical. Can you? (and damn you if you can!)

Scientists now know it takes somewhere between one and twenty minutes to recover from the effects of sleep inertia. Next they need to figure out exactly how long this period is, and hence how long we need to fully wake up, says Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, UK. "That's the crucial point," he says.
Cool. Now instead of "five more minutes" I have research that justifies "twenty more minutes"! Or at least "five more minutes" four times.

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January 03, 2006

Report: Birth Control Pills Kill Women's Sex Drive

A new study has found that women using "the Pill" as a their birth control of choice experience a loss of libido. It also suggests that even if a women go off of it, the sex drive never returns to the levels that existed prior to taking the pill. But others urge the public to take the results of this research with a grain of salt.

Consultant gynaecologist and director of Melbourne's Jean Hailes Foundation, Liz Farrell, said while it was possible the Pill reduced a woman's sex drive, other factors could be to blame.

"We know that libido is an incredibly complex and complicated emotion," Dr Farrell said.

"It can be influenced by our health, our psyche, and relationship dynamics. The Pill may be a contributor, but not necessarily the cause."

My guess is that these Pez-heads may simply be overlooking the most significant factor for the reduction of a woman's sex drive.

It's called a wedding ring.

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