Monday, November 21, 2011
|Kane says actions have consequences|
(CNN) - Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul reiterated his controversial stance Sunday that some policies of the United States contributed to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Paul said his views were consistent with analysis from various groups...Why is this claim somehow surprising? To deny that our policies might have something to do with how the rest of the world treats us leaves only two alternatives.
The first is to deny that we have any effect whatsoever in the world. Our actions never bring about reactions. America is proof that Newton's Third Law of Motion does not apply to cool people.
The second possibility is that our actions do bring about reactions, but only predictable reactions that work in our favor. No matter what we do to or for people, they will always react with gratitude, and the people who are harmed by our actions** see the wisdom of our policy and change their wicked ways.
If neither of those possibilities makes sense, then we ought to be open to the possibility that our actions in the world do bring about consequences, and some of them we don't like very much. That is not necessarily an argument against doing any specific action, but it is an argument that we ought to take our actions seriously and count the cost of them, including the not wholly unpredictable costs that someone might visit on us if we pursue them.
There never was a stupider, more self-serving explanation for 9/11 than "They hate our freedoms." But what is amazing to me is not that Americans will grab onto any slogan that absolves them of responsibility for their own almost-rape, but that they are taken wholly by surprise when a politician tells them the startling truth that what they do actually makes a difference.
* The headline is not actually from the article, but is the text of the link on the front page.
** We don't even have to direct harm at them - we just need to help their enemies. For example, helping to create a stable and prosperous Iraq hurts those who gain by an unstable, unprosperous Iraq. These people are called 'Iranians.'
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Many on Capitol Hill doubt the committee* will be able to complete its task before its Thanksgiving deadline, and some lawmakers have questioned whether the trigger should be modified, or even discarded.Haha ha hahaha haha haha hahaha ha hahahaha haha hahaha ha haha hahaha haha ha hahaha hahaha hahaha hahaha hahahahahaha hahahahahahahahaha.
"The Congress is not bound by this*," Sen. John McCain said last month. "It's something we passed. We can reverse it."
Seriously, you thought Congress was actually going to cut spending?
* That's the Super Duper Committee that was going recommend $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, under threat of 'automatic' cuts otherwise.
** "This" being "our promise from July."
The Occupy Wall Street movement is not wearing well with voters across the country. Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement's support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street's goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42...The "goals" of OWS, to the extent they existed, are not what the public's perception has changed about. People still don't like corporate greed or bailouts or Goldman Sachs. The problem with OWS is the same problem the Republicans have with every poll that shows a 'generic' Republican thumping Obama: The Great Generic Republican doesn't exist, but Mitt Romney does. The Great Generic OWS Protest doesn't exist, either. What exists are a bunch of smelly hippies crapping in parks and passing scabies and ringworm around a drum circle.
But the interesting thing to me is the difference between the public's perception of the Tea Party and OWS*, given the difference in the press' approach to the two. The Tea Parties were allegedly full of violent armed racists, but nobody managed to get shot or raped at any of their hundreds of rallies. OWS protests are almost uniformly described as peaceful, but daily there seems to be a new shooting or rape at an OWS somewhere.
I suspect the longer OWS goes on, the longer these surprising poll trends are will continue.
* "...the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Originally written in 2006, I see no reason to change it 5 years on:
It's officially midnight, which means it's officially November 15th, 2006, which means that Rogue and I have been married 20 years. It's amazing. She's amazing.
She's beautiful. She's strong. She's intelligent. She's everything a feminist dreams of being, yet she's no feminist. While she works (and on most days, she works longer and harder than me) she does not work for herself but for others. She's the first one awake in the morning, readying herself among a swarm of children, all 5 born to other women, who see her as the most important and loving person in their lives. She is that, and more. She's more than they can ever comprehend.
She's organized. She's foresighted. She's wise. In addition to her regular job, she manages commercial property and she just bought a second house which she's having renovated. She calms unmanageable callers, laughs with happy ones, and cries with grieving ones. Sometimes she sends along the notes of praise she receives from customers and her boss; I'm never surprised when others discover what I've known for so long. She scrimps and she saves and she sometimes spoils herself. She always spoils others by giving them everything they could ever want, even if it means foregoing what she wants.
She's gracious. She's funny. She's insightful. There is no better way to spend an evening than with her, alone. Perhaps the moon is rising above the snow, a fire illuminates the dark living room. Her voice complements the crackles and pops as her words paint the future as she sees it, as she sees us. I actually got ticked at her for inviting her parents to our anniversary dinner. I'm sorry. I wanted her all for myself.
She is a simple complicated woman, a soft steel woman, a practical visionary with a heart two sizes too big. She's my wife, and has been for 20 years today. I only pray that she'll have the patience to put up with me for another 20. And then another.
And maybe, should God bless me in the future as he has in the present, even another.
Monday, November 14, 2011
There is no solution to the current debt crisis plaguing the euro zone, and it’s an illusion to think that one lies on the horizon, an economist told CNBC Monday.Of course the current, positive sentiment among investors regarding Italy as temporary and fleeting - it's exactly the kind of extend and pretend that has been going on in the Euro Zone since the financial crisis started. How many times has the Greek problem been "solved"? I can count at least three, and now the bankers are replacing governments to try to solve it. The math is still bad. But that does not mean there is no way out.
"There is no way out, I never thought there was, not for any of the countries that are in trouble. Once one of these countries goes into this sort of problem, there is no escape," Roger Nightingale, economist at RDN Associates, said.
He dismissed the current, positive sentiment among investors regarding Italy as temporary and fleeting.
What economists and politicians and bankers mean by a "way out" is a way out of our current situation without pain, without cutting budgets, without suffering the natural consequences of our prior actions, and without hurting bank profits. In that case of course there's no way out, any more than there is no way out of the multiplication tables* if you wish to make 3 x 2 equal to 27. You simply have to work with reality.
But there is always a way out for Greece and any other country, including the US, that finds itself in a debt sink:
1) balance the budget.
2) default on any debt that cannot be paid for within that budget.
3) break any promise of future spending that cannot be paid for within that budget.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Of course not, or it would be done already. In fact, all of the bailouts and the programs and proposals have been designed specifically to avoid those three steps. We will have to take the one way out eventually** - the only question is how much harder the politicians will make that one way on the average person.
* Maths are stubbornly unaffected by political desires.
** "You don't have to go home, folks, but you can't stay here."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I'm really not sure what I'll do without any crying going on in my house. Oh, wait, yes I'm sure. While it's more an explanation than an excuse, the reason it's been so slow around here is that I've managed to knock out 15-20% of my thesis in the last week and a half. Now that the research is done, the rest simply consists in writing the blasted thing**. The sad thing is how little of the research I'll actually get to use. The rest can wait for the book, I guess.
* 5 kids in a house is "relatively empty" compared to 10, 7 of whom are girls under the age of 8. Especially when 2 of them do nothing but sleep here before heading off to work and/or school.
** Plus probably as much time as that again formatting footnotes. Good grief. If Kate Tarabian was not already dead I'd probably kill her.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Washington — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming...Now that we're in the middle of another global climate progress panic (I guess), I decided to do my own little climate study. Now obviously, I don't have access to all the numbers that scientists do*, but I did manage to find record highs and lows for Topeka as provided by the National Weather Service going back 120 years for a little non-scientific study of my own.
In 2007, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its last large report on global warming, it used different scenarios for carbon dioxide pollution and said the rate of warming would be based on the rate of pollution. Boden said the latest figures put global emissions higher than the worst case projections from the climate panel.
I picked Topeka because, hey, what better stand in for the "northern hemisphere" in the famous hockey stick graph? And I also picked highs and lows because besides immensely reducing the number of numbers we have to deal with, since we are looking for broad trends, these numbers might be all we need. For it seems to me that if we are really getting warmer, then the number of days which are the warmest of that day ought to increase as we get closer to today. Right? You can't have the "warmest decade ever" without a good number of those days being the warmest days ever**.
So I made a spreadsheet of the warmest and coolest days and sorted them by decade. The results are interesting:
1880/90s: 21 (all-time highs)
We should expect that latter periods will be a little bit overweighted***, and the number of days in which the record high was reached in the 2000s was on the high side. However, the 1930s had three times as many high record days as the so-called 'warmest decade on record,' and that after up to 80 years for statistical outliers to wipe them out. Given that the 1930s have but 11 record record low days (compared to 21 for the 2000s), it is very hard for me to buy a the idea that the 2000s constituted the warmest decade on record.
However, there is probably little doubt that we have the highest CO2 concentrations on (recent) record. To my unscientific little mind, that does not bode well for a CO2 temperature correlation.
* Especially the numbers just above the double line on a grant application.
** Well, I suppose that theoretically you could so long as the temperature increased while the spread of temperature decreased. In other words, if the weather got both warmer more placid. Not a bad thing, all told.
*** After all, the 1890s have had a full century in which truly 'freak' days could wipe out their records. This year's days? Not so much.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Three Cornell professors, each with a B.A. in English, encouraged students at a panel discussion Wednesday to pursue their passion for studying English, even if the field’s career prospects are not necessarily lucrative.In other words, yes, you are going to live in the garage*. You are not going to find a job as an English major that will pay the costs of your English major, especially one from Cornell**. Your parents know you're going to live in the garage. Your professors will tell you that you're going to live in the garage even while they tell you what a great person you are for doing it.
...“I am going to touch on what to tell your parents when they say, ‘What are you doing? Are you going to live in a garage?’” Schwarz said.
Adopting a more somber tone, Schwarz told the audience — primarily filled with English majors seeking career advice — that they are studying English for the sake of intellectual, as opposed to monetary, gain.
You should know perfectly well that when you study anything "as opposed to monetary gain," you're not bloody likely to get any monetary gain from it.
But never let that stop you from blaming someone else.
* Unless you're Bethany, then you're going to live on base.
** At more than $40k/year before room and board.