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  • #2 Onion Post of 2006

    December 19, 2006
    Al Gore exposed!
  • Government leavin' the yout' on the shelf

    December 19, 2006
    When I was a young lad in northern England, there was much distress as the Thatcher government swallowed the bitter pill and proceeded to shut down or privatize loss-generating nationalized industries that existed primarily as "make work" programs.  The Specials' 1981 hit "Ghost Town" was an early cry of outrage.  The lines "No job to be found in this country" and "People gettin' angry" sum up the reaction of many thousands, an attitude that survives to this day in the North of England. Today, economist Don Boudreaux explains just why scarcity of jobs is never a problem and why government attempts to make work are misguided shots at the wrong target.
  • Model article

    December 19, 2006
    Excellent article from Ryan Meyer of the Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes at the University of Arizona on the inadequacies of models that purport to assess the damages of global warming.  Read the whole thing, but two specific points are well worth excerpting:
    The a priori assumption that global climate change is the only global change problem we need to deal with is misguided. Starting with climate change as the central problem, and then building a model around variables that plausibly can be linked to climate change, will of course yield a picture of the future in which climate change is the dominant problem. If one insists on framing problems in global terms, climate should be just one of many changes important to the future of humans on Earth. The...
  • Lucy's "Top Twaddlers"

    December 19, 2006
    I missed reading the Financial Times yesterday (Fred stole it), so missed until today Lucy Kellaway's riotous column where she gives business jargon awards for the year.  Don't miss it yourself.  You'll also get a chance to hear one of her winners in the category “Company Song So Awful I Was Positive It Was a Spoof.”

    Here's what Lucy has to say about this special award:

    The outstanding winner in this category is Shell. Its song is called "Growing and Winning" and is set to "We Are the World". "We have moved on, growing day by day/Sharing strengths, we practise what is best/We are all a part of Shell's global family/Doing work aligned with everyone." It is a haunting mixture of pyschobabble, sentimentality and...

  • Who's the Denier?

    December 19, 2006
    The Charleston Daily Mail editorial page recently featured "Rockefeller is Out of Line" a critique of the Senator's "intemperate attempt to squelch debate." Sen. Rockefeller responded by noting that:
    We didn't "attempt to squelch debate," as the Daily Mail suggested. Rather, our letter was, in fact, an attempt to create and foster greater debate. And part of that debate, I believe, requires calling attention to Exxon-Mobil's funding of a pseudoscientific community whose purpose is to prevent us from tackling global climate change.
    This is right out of the Washington politician play book. When told you are doing something wrong, just deny...
  • Just how widespread is misrepresentation in climate science?

    December 19, 2006
    Roger Pielke Jr has some strong words about a forthcoming paper that he feels misrepresents his work.  Note that we're not talking about an advocacy position here, an op-ed or a short video piece that are unable to capture all nuances adequately, but an actual scientific paper.  Roger concludes:
    The bottom line here is that while this is just one paragraph in one paper, there is perhaps reason to be concerned about the fidelity of the literature, whatever the underlying causes may be. We have documented other shortfalls in the literature on several occasions on this site. To the extent that these data points are representative of broader problems in the climate literature, scientists should redouble their efforts to exert high standards of quality control. For...
  • Criminals: The New Protected Class

    December 19, 2006
    Employers in Washington, D.C. may soon be banned from considering criminal convictions in hiring, if the criminal's probation or parole officer thinks he has "achieved a degree of rehabilitation," under a bill sponsored by ex-con Marion Barry. Criminals will become a new protected class. The D.C. Council apparently voted unanimously to ban such discrimination against ex-convicts on December 11. If it repeats the vote on December 19, the approval of the ban will be final, according to the December 11 issue of the Legal Times. Civil-rights legislation started out as a way to require that people be judged based on the content of their character, not irrelevant characteristics like race. But now, employers will be prevented from looking at the content of the character of certain criminals. Amazingly, leftist groups like the D.C. Employment Justice Project and the Washington...
  • DDT and Malaria: The Misanthropes Strike Back!

    December 19, 2006
    The recent decision by the World Health Organization to recommend selective indoor spraying to control malaria seemed to signal a recognition on the part of environmentalists that “small” environmental risks could be accepted when the human gains were great. Sigh — it appears that this is not to be. The internet is abuzz with attacks on the WHO reforms, arguing that bed nets are a superior solution, a solution not requiring rethinking the relative risks of DDT. They raise the issue of mosquitoes becoming resistant to DDT — less of a problem than they think since the major impact of DDT is to deter mosquitoes from residing in the sprayed room, not killing them. Not sure how resistant builds up in these cases. Also, bed nets require significant behavioral changes. People must arrange their lives to sleep enclosed, the nets must be cared for (torn nets don't protest), and...
  • But At Least the Egyptians Kept the Operating Costs Down!

    December 19, 2006
    And, yet, another story about the virtues of mass transit, the horrors of the automobile. John Pomfret, a Washington Post journalist, wrote an article this weekend (“L.A. Long Ruled by Cars, Becoming a Transit Leader”). After the dismissive initial comment (less than 7 percent of all trips in L.A. are via transit), he finds wonderful things to say about the L.A. subway. That numerous studies have found that transit ridership in absolute and relative terms is declining, that subways are the least cost-effective means of providing mass transit, and that the impact is very swiftly to provide wealthy people a highly subsidized alternative to driving — no coverage on these points. Subways are cool and economists are just a gloomy lot. Every society seems to experience periods of collective insanity where funds are poured into whatever mega project is currently...
  • Can the Greens Take a Joke?

    December 19, 2006
    Is it my imagination or is there an increasing trend to view the greenies and their fears as chicken littles, whiners, and basically nuts? It has become a standard bit of pop culture dialog to refer to some over-the-top alarmist statement as an “Al Gore moment,” and jokes about global warming are common. But now that trend has penetrated even the comic strips. The Sunday Tank McNamara strip (December 17, 2006) has the basketball commissioner brushing off criticisms of the switch to “synthetic” from “leather” balls. The Commissioner says that switch has “got the animal rights loonies off my back.” But, then, the last panel shows a group of protesters holding up a banner protesting the use of synthetics too. The banner reads: “People for the Ethical Treatment of Hydrocarbons” with the subtitle — “Drilling Desecrates the Sacred Resting Places of our Ancestral...


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