Archive for April, 2009

Pining for Cooling

16 April 2009

In Colorado, people have been fretting about the lowly pine beetle for some time now. 


Because estimates are that all–that’s right ALL–the mature lodgepole pine in the state will be dead within four years–or so says a year old Denver Post article “Beetle Scourge Goes from Bad to Worse.”

How significant is this? Check out some of the statistics from this old article:

The bark beetle infestation ravaged 500,000 new acres of forests in Colorado in 2007, bringing the total infestation to 1.5 million acres — almost all of state’s lodgepole forests — according to the latest aerial survey. The infestation has now worked its way north and east, including an increase of more than 1,500 percent in the acreage affected in Boulder and Larimer counties.

The local ag college has a fact sheet on what can be done. I read it and became depressed. In short, I don’t see anyone doing this for the million and a half acres of affected lodgepoles in the state. That is–they are doomed. The mountain landscape of the state will change.

One of the agreed upon causes of this catastrophic infestation is that of late Colorado winters have not had extended periods of sub-zero temperatures, one of the natural controls for pine beetle populations.

And now that the trees are dying, we have to worry about more forest fires. We in Colorado expect fires–especially when, as now, we are in a major drought.

But how many of us are prepared for the dead trees adding to the CO2 problem?

I read somewhere that in Europe last year trees added to the carbon dioxide problem. Today came more news: “Forests Could Flip from Sink to Source of CO2: Study.”

Boy, I’m so glad all those skeptics keep telling us that the globe is cooling, but they need to tell it to the trees.



101ers Redux?

10 April 2009

The subprime foreclosures are producing new events, some I expected, some I didn’t. For example, there are all sorts of stories floating around about the inevitable vandalizing of derelict homes and theft of copper pipes, sinks, toilets, and such.

But some stories disturb me even more. I didn’t save the link, but I read about one woman who fell into delinquency on a rental home she’d owned for several years. She notified her tenants and they moved out. The empty home was then vandalized and is no longer habitable. Now the city is after her to fix up the derelict house because the mortgage holder never shifted the house into their name(s).

When I told him of this, my attorney husband shook his head and muttered about warning clients not to move out until the sheriff was at the door.

But the eviction aspect is only half. I’d expected some squatting to occur, but now I’m reading about organized squatting:

“With Advocates’ Help, Squatters Call Foreclosures Home”

Why am I suddenly thinking about the late Joe Strummer and the 101ers?

Oh, yeah, that’s right–the 101ers were squatters.


Will Be on Thin Ice

9 April 2009

Here’s a bit from “New Data Show Rapid Arctic Ice Decline” published in the Washington Post, which publishes George Will’s columns.

The new evidence — including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s — contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.

Scientists have begun debating how soon the Arctic will lose its summer ice altogether, with some saying it could happen as early as 2015. White House science adviser John P. Holdren told the crowd at the State Department that the total disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic “may be far, far closer” than scientists thought just a few years ago.

Boy, I’m glad we have conservative political pundits like George Will to tell us the state of the environment. I’d hate to have to rely on scientists and people like that.

I mean, like, uh, scientists keep doing all these, um, tests and stuff, and then they give us scary measurements and stuff. But we don’t have to believe any of it because we all know they tend to be liberal. I’m so glad we have conservatives who are RIGHT. Period.

Can anyone tell I’m finally reaching the point that my compatriot Sybil, a scientist, reached a long time ago? She’s been asking me for months how I can continue reading all the drivel put out by those without a science background.

I’m no longer sure I have an answer other than “masochism.”


The Second Amendment, Part Two

9 April 2009

My copy of Saul Cornell’s award-winning A Well-Regulated Milita: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America arrived yesterday, and I’m giddy with delight. It’s my type of book: 218 pages of text, 40 pages of detailed notes–highly academic and highly readable.

Although I’m only 24 pages in, Cornell lays out his thesis in his introduction:

The original understanding of the Second Amendement was neither an individual right of self-defense nor a collective right of the states, but rather a civic right that guaranteed that citizens would be able to keep and bear those arms needed to meet their legal oblication to participate in a well-regulated militia. (2)

Cornell goes on to say that neither gun rights people nor gun control people are going to like what his research turned up. He says the ideal was the minutemen and this “ideal was far less individualistic than most gun rights people assume, and far more martial in spirit than most gun control advocates realize” (2).

In short, it looks like my fantasy from my April 5 post may not have been that far off:

I’m going to be envisioning all–and I do mean ALL–of our adult citizens who are capable of carrying and aiming guns showing up for militia duty on regular intervals, being trained and tested for gun use and being tested for their suitability as members of a “well regulated militia.”


P.S. Chapter One opens with the seizure of John Hancock’s sloop Liberty and its cargo of smuggled wine. Cornell notes, “Hancock’s penchant for smuggling was well known (9).”

“Too Young, Too Thin”

6 April 2009

Here’s a bit from “Arctic Ice Got Smaller, Thinner, Younger This Winter,” yet another report on the polar ice, this time the Arctic:

Arctic ice continued its decline this winter, with hearty old ice increasingly being replaced with quick-to-melt young ice, according to a new report by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Of course, who is going to believe information from these dubious sources? I mean, they are probably using satellite info and other suspicious science stuff. They most likely even have computers.

OK, I’m getting more and more fed up with the ideologues who tell me they aren’t ideologues.

The bias against scientific organizations continues to stun me. One global warming skeptic sent me a patronizing email in which he told me that I shouldn’t pay attention to the anything from the National Geographic since they were–I believe I’m remembering his phrase accurately–“global warming activists.” Instead, he suggested, I should pay attention to “terrific” sites like Junk Science because “Stephen Milloy’s credentials are impeccable.”

Impeccable shill, I say. Milloy advocates “sound science,” which is anything but. “Sound science” is a clever ploy to undermine the essence of the scientific method, an ongoing process that rarely, rarely reaches the level of certainty required by the nefarious ploy called “sound science.”

SourceWatch lists Milloy as “a columnist for Fox News and a paid advocate for Phillip Morris, ExxonMobil and other corporations.” I suppose that makes one “impeccable” in a corporate/political way.

(And, yes, I know SourceWatch is also one of those ideologue sites. I cross-reference them too because a decent researcher cross-references EVERYTHING.)

For anyone unfamiliar with Milloy, I suggest a visit to “Correcting Myths from Steven Milloy.” Poking around there should explain why he’s not one of the people I’ll listen to.

Now I’m still trying to figure out skeptics like Freeman Dyson. He may not be a climate scientist, but he’s certainly harder to dismiss than Milloy.

But until I see more substance, even from Dyson, I’ll stay with NASA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and those global warming activists at National Geographic.


P.S. For anyone interested in the art of evaluating sources, I strongly recommend Cornell’s “Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals.” This site lists National Geographic as an example under the heading “SUBSTANTIVE NEWS OR GENERAL INTEREST.” But, then again, most high-end universities are filled with global warming activists, aren’t they? By that, I mean they follow the scientific method rather than just being RIGHT.

Uncooperative Ice

5 April 2009

Another “Ice Bridge Ruptures in Antarctic” says BBC News.

Once again, more proof of global cooling. The rupture was undoubtedly caused by the hot breath of all those global warming “advocates.”


Unemployment Statistics

5 April 2009

After reading that the March 2009 U-6 unemployment rate was 16.2 (seasonally adjusted was 15.6), I had to ask Sybil what U-6 meant. She told me, but–surprise, surprise–I realized I had more research to do.

Here’s a handy link to definitions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the source of this:

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.

It’s nice to know the breakdown because few newspaper articles give the definition they used. For example, “Recession Outlasts Even Extended Jobless Benefits” gives the unemployment rate as 8.5 percent.

This fits with the Bureau of Labor Statistics listing for U-3, seasonally adjusted, for March 2009. They define U-3 as “Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor (official unemployment rate).”

How many of us have any experience with the art of statistics? Believe me, lying with statistics is an art. There are many books on the topic.

Check out Shadow Stats. I don’t have a subscription, but much of the info is available. For example, here’s a C-Span link: “John Williams,, on the Unemployment Rate.”

See. Things are even worse than they seem.

Have a nice day.


The Second Amendment

5 April 2009

Here’s the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

I took this from a government site for those who quibble about comma placement. A couple of court cases appear here too in case you’re interested.

With the murder of the trailer park kids adding to the list of mass murders of late, I’m pondering this amendment again. It’s bothered me for some time, but until now not enough for me to do any research on the topic. Now questions are popping:

What exactly is a “well regulated militia”*?
Where is ours?
Who serves?

It took me about ten seconds to find that there’s a well-received book on the subject: A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America .

I’m going to go find a copy right now. Author Saul Cornell won the Langum Prize in American Legal History/Legal Biography for this in 2007.

While I search for a copy, I’m going to be fantasizing about the formation of a “well regulated militia” in the US. I’m going to be envisioning all–and I do mean ALL–of our adult citizens who are capable of carrying and aiming guns showing up for militia duty on regular intervals, being trained and tested for gun use and being tested for their suitability as members of a “well regulated militia.”

Consider yesterday’s Pittsburgh shooter Richard Popalawski. A friend claimed this fellow was dishonorably discharged from the Marines because he threw a food tray at a drill sergeant.

I don’t have anything against gun ownership. But this guy is representative of a group of people who obviously weren’t “well regulated militia” material. I’m against THOSE sorts having guns.

If I can get hold of a copy Cornell’s book**–and several others that look promising–I’ll let you know what I find.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my local library to score a copy of Naomi Oreskes’ book on the theory of continental drift.


*I’m putting “well regulated militia” in quotation marks since the amendment is not in Modern Language Association format. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, point 3.2.6 says: “Use a hyphen in a compound adjective beginning with an adverb such as better, best, ill, lower, little, or well when the adjective precedes a noun.”

Notice that the title of Cornell’s book carries a hyphen.

Yes, I’m a pedant, a professional pedant. And I love being a pedant. So there.

**Have it on order! I love the Internet!

Walking in the Shoes of Others

4 April 2009

I’m not too good at getting into the heads of certain types of ideologues, but I’ll give it a try with these two stories straight off Google News.

“An Antarctic Ice Shelf Has Disappeared: Scientists”

Those treacherous, global warming “advocate” scientists have no doubt stolen it! Well, they might be hiding it, but it’s undoubtedly getting LARGER by the minute because of GLOBAL COOLING!

Free that iceberg, Scientists! Save yourselves before you find yourselves encased and frozen solid.

“Sarah Palin’s Sister-in-Law Arrested for Burglary”

Well, that story’s from People magazine. What do you expect? That rag doesn’t honor American values.

Umm, OK. The version of the story in the Anchorage Daily News is pretty much the same. I hadn’t realized that this newspaper was run by wingnut liberals out to destroy everyone related to the wonderful Palin family.

But notice that this poor woman brought her daughter with her. Good family values are important.

Whew. I can’t get these shoes off fast enough.


Handbasket Report — Cognitive Dissonance?

4 April 2009

Lots of blogs I read are discussing the possibility of civil war in the United States. Recent events, however, suggest another type of violence is already underway.

July 28, 2008: “Cops Say Church Shooting Suspect ‘Hated’ Gays, Liberals”

This good old boy had lost his job.

Gotta blame somebody, so he walked into a Unitarian church and started shooting.

April 4, 2009: “Police: ‘Disrespected’ Binghamton Shooter Distraught over Firing”

The shooter, a Vietnamese immigrant, had lost his job.

Gotta blame somebody, so he walked into a civic center that helped immigrants and started shooting.

Today: “Gunman ‘Lying in Wait’ Kills 3 Pittsburgh Officers”

A young man lost his job.

According to his friends, he also feared President Obama was going to take away his guns.

The President’s out of the country, but gotta blame somebody, so he gunned down some police officers and continued a firefight for four hours.

Why do I have a horrible feeling we are going to see more of these events?