From Barbara O’Brian on the about.com Buddhism page:
The most compassionate thing to do for the witnesses is to just listen to them and honor their stories without judgment. The least compassionate thing is to co-opt their stories for use in some prefabricated agenda.
I just saw this story in Daily Caller today:
President Obama will fly to Connecticut Monday to make remarks about the state’s new gun laws. This will be the second time in five days the president has rewarded state-level gun control measures by traveling for in-state appearances.
The President will appear at the University of Hartford to ”continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence,” according to a White House release Sunday morning.
Connecticut’s legislature passed a 139-page gun control bill last week, which includes universal criminal background checks for all gun sales, creation of a “weapon offender registry,” 10-round limits on ammunition magazines, and other restrictions.
So, I’ve got a question. When the problem appears to be that Democrat Senators in red states are unwilling to hang themselves out on gun control, why is he concentrating on states like Colorado and Connecticut? Places where those laws have already been passed?
It’s hard to choose, but here’s a real candidate. Discussing her bill to limit large magazines, she said:
“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”
Sarah Hoyt has a terrific idea: Make the Ides of March, famously the day on which Gaius Julius Caesar was executed for the crime of ending the Roman Republic and proclaiming himself Dictator for Life.
Two years ago yesterday, the Honshu Earthquake, along with the subsequent tsunami, devastated the north shore of Japan. At the time, I wrote a series of articles on the earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent major accident in the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini reactors.
The first of those was called “Fear the Media Meltdown, Not the Nuclear One“. In this series, I made the point that the actual damage from the radiation would be relatively minor, with few or no long-term health effects — after all, there had been no observable long-term health effects except for plant workers at Chernobyl, and this was never going to be as big as Chernobyl.
For this I was roundly reviled, including by one lunatic who suggested the Navy was going to drop hydrogen bombs on the reactors to keep them from blowing up.
Two years later, here’s a story from Bloomberg: “Fukushima Radiation Proves Less Deadly Than Feared“.
The headline, even then, is a little bit exaggerated. It should have been “Fukushima Radiation Has No Detectable Effects Outside Immediate Area of Reactors”.
Here’s a quote:
And what of the lasting threat from radiation? Remarkably, outside the immediate area of Fukushima, this is hardly a problem at all. Although the crippled nuclear reactors themselves still pose a danger, no one, including personnel who worked in the buildings, died fromradiation exposure. Most experts agree that future health risks from the released radiation, notably radioactive iodine-131 and cesiums-134 and – 137, are extremely small and likely to be undetectable.
Even considering the upper boundary of estimated effects, there is unlikely to be any detectable increase in cancers in Japan, Asia or the world except close to the facility, according to a World Health Organization report. There will almost certainly be no increase in birth defects or genetic abnormalities from radiation.
Even in the most contaminated areas, any increase in cancer risk will be small. For example, a male exposed at age 1 has his lifetime cancer risk increase from 43 percent to 44 percent. Those exposed at 10 or 20 face even smaller increases in risk — similar to what comes from having a whole-body computer tomography scan or living for 12 to 25 years in Denver amid background radiation in the Rocky Mountains. (There is no discernible difference in the cancer rates between people who live in Denver and those in Los Angeles or New York.)
Rather than stand as a warning of the radiation danger posed by nuclear power, in other words, Fukushima has become a reminder that uninformed fears aren’t the same as actual risks.
There are few joys in life comparable than being able to say “I told you so.”
He said, smugly.
Here’s the story: a patient (who doesn’t want to be named) was at a VA hospital for a colonoscopy — not a routine one, but because of a problem that could be serious. As he tells it:
9 am in or prep room IV and muscle relaxant … given- they’ll give me heavier dose of something before they go in. Sat there near an hour when lady walks in “Govt Shut down. If you’re not in, they’re out.” that was it. Went to patient advocate she had been sent home almost as soon as she arrived I’m guessing to head off volume of complaints.
Trying to confirm further, get more information from VA, but if this holds up, it means the VA is willing to risk a patent’s life or heath to play the sequester game.
Here’s the story. With all due warnings about the state of my Spanish, here’s the basics: Guillermo Cochez, a Panamanian politician and once Ambassador to the Organization of American States, is saying that Hugo Chavez was declared brain-dead on 30 December, and died four days ago when his daughters took him off life support. Cochez challenges the government of Venezuela to prove him wrong and bring Chavez out in public.
Mark Stuertz passes this along.
Remember the TEA Parties?
Sarah A Hoyt, SF writer, Prometheus Award winner, and sometime PJM contributor, will be on Cam Edwards’ NRA News Radio today at 3:40PM ET, talking about her blog post “Drinking Their Own Ink“. You can hear the show on Sirius XM Patriot radio, or though the NRA News website.
Today, from Megan McArdle at the Daily Beast:
Without that kind of passenger traffic, it would never make sense to lay the tracks (new tracks are required because for high speed rail to be truly high speed, it needs very, very straight tracks.) The Chinese government has a variety of strongarm measures to simply take the land it wants (not to mention a lot of low-productivity farmland). The US government has to tediously assemble plots one by one, compensating the folks whose land it has seized, and then jumping through various obstacle courses comprised of local and environmental review processes.
So we aren’t getting a national high speed rail network. Your wallet should be glad. But those of you who would really like to hurtle across the American landscape at 300 mph from Chicago to Las Vegas are permitted a small sigh.
To make train travel competitive, you’d need to raise airline ticket prices about 15 times, say with an excise tax or a tariff. Raising the airline ticket prices 15 times would, of course, pretty well end the airline industry as we know it; rock stars and CEOs would be about all that was left. Although I suppose they’d give their occasional traveler a second bag of peanuts if asked.
New technology won’t help all that much for a nationwide system, either. The French TGV train — I love French: train à grande vitesse just sounds so much inherently cooler than “really fast train” — really only travels about 200 miles an hour; even maglev trains are not a lot faster. That would cut the travel time in half, making the total travel time to New York only, hoo-hah, 45 hours.
It’s not a matter of the government not supporting Amtrak. It’s not a matter of the U.S. not having the “will” to have the best passenger trains in the world. It’s that passenger trains, using any current technology or any technology we see coming in the foreseeable future, simply can’t compete with airlines.
It’s just arithmetic.
According to Poynter:
The marker will bear the Star of David and a Hebrew prayer, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” It also will be inscribed with the last words of journalist Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by terrorists in 2002: “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.”
Koch died on the 11th anniversary of the murder of Pearl.
I managed to misspell “Daniel”. Profuse apologies.
From the Daily Caller, some hints about what to do if a “active shooter” is in your office or workplace:
- throw things at him
- try to subdue him
- as a last resort, try to attack him physically with objects such as scissors.
They neglected options like “throw baseballs at his head”, “jump out the window”, and “cry”.
Hey, I’ve got an idea! How about a concealed-carry holder shoots the sonovabitch?
This from Anthony Watts, friend of PJM and occasional contributor:
Please have a look at this, and thank the Japanese.
BTW, in case it isn’t obvious, this find throws the “hottest ever” claims of NOAA/NCDC/NASA into serious question, since the temperature peaks of the last decade are well below that of the NOAA/NASA/Met office data set.
What are they going to say, that Japanese scientists “did it wrong” when they cite it in their own publications?
What we really need to see is the unadjusted CLIMAT data reports plotted prior to 2000. I’m betting NCDC will be loathe to do that, for obvious reasons.
Read the whole thing, but basically the difference between warming in US models and no-warming in the Japanese models comed from the systematic adjustments applied.
Just to be clear here, these data are not the result of a prospective, predictive sort of climate model; however, the way the raw data is combined into a curve and the adjustments applied are the result of a statistical model.
It occurred to me this morning — just a little too late to make it an official prediction, see Bryan’s post — that there’s actually a rule that appears to pretty well predict Obama’s behavior this term, and really a lot of last term. It’s this:
Obama doesn’t really want to pass legislation. He wants to propose legislation that fails.
Notice, for example, today’s immigration proposals. There is a bipartisan compromise being reached, and Democrats asked Obama not to bring out his proposals now. Of course, he’s ignoring the request, and his proposals demand exactly the things the Democrats were willing to compromise on away.
Why would he do this? First, he’ll now get to blame the Republicans, and he can be confident no one will point out there was a compromise being reached before he beat it to death with a shovel. Or at least no one he thinks is a “legitimate” news organization, since it’s clear that “legitimate” and “agrees with me” are more or less equivalent in his mind.
And second, I think you can expect that once the compromise falls through, he’ll announce that since “he was elected to get things done,” he is by executive order implementing much of his plan.
Net effect: more ammunition against the GOP, and another assertion of executive power.
I said back before the 2008 election that Obama wasn’t running for President, he was running for Caudillo. This is part of that: passed compromises don’t pay off for his real goals.
That’s a quote from a new employee of al Jazeera US. According to a story by Linda Stasi at the New York Post, the employees of Current TV are not pleased.
How do they feel about Gore the savior of green energy now?
The displeasure with Gore among the staff was thick enough to cut with a scimitar.
“We all know now that Al Gore is nothing but a bulls***ter,” said the staffer bluntly.
We do stories on the tax code, and he sells the network before the tax code kicked in?
“Al was always lecturing us about green. He kept his word about green all right—as in cold, hard cash!”
Schadefreude ist der schoensste Freude.
So, I say – break the cycle. Speak real truth to power. Write of war and evil, sure, but as human ills, and not as the result of the unique badness of Western Civilization (or civilization) or capitalism, or affluence, or industrialization. Dare point out that while humanity has had savages aplenty, few of them were noble. Dare point out that while civilized man can be conventional, conventional behavior is often decent and moral and better for everyone.
Smash fake intellectualism. Speak truth to power. Dare write of individuals who can and do control their destiny and make things better (or at least try to.)
Read the whole thing.
Just picked this up from Watts Up With That. Here’s the abstract:
We use statistical methods for nonstationary time series to test the anthropogenic interpretation of global warming (AGW), according to which an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations raised global temperature in the 20th century. Specifically, the methodology of polynomial cointegration is used to test AGW since during the observation period (1880–2007) global temperature and solar irradiance are stationary in 1st differences whereas greenhouse gases and aerosol forcings are stationary in 2nd differences. We show that although these anthropogenic forcings share a common stochastic trend, this trend is empirically independent of the stochastic trend in temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, greenhouse gas forcing, aerosols, solar irradiance and global temperature are not polynomially cointegrated. This implies that recent global warming is not statistically significantly related to anthropogenic forcing. On the other hand, we find that greenhouse gas forcing might have had a temporary effect on global temperature.
Sarah Hoyt, sometimes PJM contributor, has a piece up today on her own blog that I think is important.
She makes a pretty good argument that there is, in reality, three competing world views in operation today.
One derives from the Roman Empire, which is essentially based on aristocratic plutocracy: keep the plebeians under control; take their wealth and redistribute it to buy support; and make sure that the aristocracy — which we now call the bureaucracy, but which fulfills the same role of a self-selected elite that uses political and social control to enrich and aggrandize themselves. (Even Communism in Russia and the Russian slave states eventually turned into this.)
The second, an ultraconservative world view, largely promoted now by some sects of Islam, which idolizes an idealized social order of obedience and strictly controlled morality. (Of course, this is the idealized world of a Marxist too.)
And third, the individualist view of humanity that appeared during the Enlightenment: Jefferson’s, Franklin’s, Voltaire’s idea of free people making free decisions, relatively unconstrained by a coercive State.
[T]hey have no clue what makes us work, not really. They don’t know why we innovate more than they do. They don’t know why our consumer society is what is softening their politics advancement into the rest of the world. They know it, but they resent it.
We are of them, but we are also the others. And being the others, we must be absorbed, and we must be brought in line. There can be no competing mental furniture, as Europe takes over the rest of the world.
Which brings us to where we are. Since the early twentieth century, they’ve been conquering our intellectuals, our universities, convincing them the European way is better. (And look, they’ve changed from monarchy to “democracies” of various kinds, but the same people are in charge. The bureaucrats that have the real power are the same people – often from the same families.) They’ve been telling them about the soft power of redistribution, of socialism, of an entrenched bureaucracy, set to encompass the world.
Intellectuals – and bureaucrats – like that. It’s the sort of power they understand and the sort of power they crave.
Here’s the silly headline, for of all: “Psych meds linked to 90% of school shootings“.
Here are some amusing paragraphs:
Some 90 percent of school shootings over more than a decade have been linked to a widely prescribed type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, according to British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy, a founder of RxISK.org, an independent website for researching and reporting on prescription drugs.
Though there has been no definitive confirmation that drugs played a role in the Newtown, Conn., assault, that killed 20 children and six adults, media have cited family members and acquaintances saying suspect Adam Lanza was taking prescription medication to treat “a neurological-development disorder,” possibly Aspergers.
Healy cautioned that the public needs “to wait to find out what Adam Lanza was on, and whether his behavior does fit the template of a treatment-induced problem.”
However, in an email to WND, he said he suspected prescribed psychiatric medications was the cause of Lanza’s violent behavior.
Healy said that while the public waits to learn more about Lanza, there are two general points that can be made.
First, he said, “psychotropic drugs of pretty well any group can trigger violence up to and including homicide.”
“Second, the advocates of treatment claim both that it is the illness and not the drugs that causes violence and that we are leaving huge numbers of people untreated.”
But Healy argued that if this were the case, “we should not find that comfortably over 90 percent of school shootings are linked to medication intake.”
I’m sorry, this is just too depressing to fisk properly. I think I’ll leave it as an exercise for you, our readers.
Brad Warner, a Zen master in the Soto lineage, is a relatively new voice and one of my favorite Zen teachers, not least because he became a Zen master and teacher almost by accident — he studied with his direct Zen ancestor, Gudo Nijishima Roshi, because he was crazy for Japanese monster movies and was working for the company that makes Godzilla movies in Japan. Perhaps because of that, he doesn’t “stink of Buddhism” as many more traditional Zen teachers in the US do. He wrote about the Newtown murders, saying:
The media loves this kind of stuff. It’s terrific for ratings. A shooting at an elementary school around Christmas-time has got to be like a godsend for the news media. They’re going to milk it for all that it’s worth.
When that happens, we are shown a steady stream of images designed specifically to excite us and enhance whatever feelings of fear, grief, outrage, horror and so on that come up when things like this happen. It presents to us a consensus of what we supposedly ought to be feeling. Those of us who don’t feel the way the media is saying we ought to can often start to believe there’s something wrong with us. But that’s not true. It’s OK to feel however you feel about this.
As far as making sense of this tragedy, I think that might be impossible. Human beings often do things that are simply irrational and without any real sense. We’re driven by powerful forces that we cannot ever fully comprehend. In Buddhism we identify greed, hate and delusion as the three categories of things that drive us to do wrong. Once a month on the full moon people living at Zen monasteries gather together and chant, “All my ancient twisted karma, from beginningless greed, hate and delusion, born through body, speech and mind, I now fully avow.”
We all have greed, hate and delusion. The kid who shot those children wasn’t so different from us. But he failed to understand that the best way to deal with this is to refrain from doing wrong. In Buddhism we value refraining from doing wrong much more highly than doing right.
Buddhists think about Avalokitesvara, “the Bodhisattva who hears cries”, also known in China as Guanyin, and in Japan as Kannon, at these times.
One mantra associated with Her is the one most people hear of most often: om mani padme hum.
The biggest news is that this report admits to a much larger role for solar irradiation than previous reports have done. As Anthony says, that would be a game-changer.
This is dated December 4th — last Tuesday — but it’s just getting around now. I’ll reproduce the whole news release on the next page, but here’s the basic story.
The results of a 4 year study show that Americans who obtain their news from Fox News channel have an average IQ of 80, which represents a 20 point deficit when compared to the U.S. national average of 100. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is the international standard of assessing intelligence.
Researchers at The Intelligence Institute, a conservative non-profit group, tested 5,000 people using a series of tests that measure everything from cognitive aptitude to common sense and found that people who identified themselves as Fox News viewers and ‘conservative’ had, on average, significantly lower intelligent quotients. Fox Viewers represented 2,650 members of the test group.
The press release has a name — “P. Nichols” — and a phone number attached, so I called. I got a call back from a 202 area code. Okay, Washington, D.C. Not clear why the press release is datelined “Birmingham Alabama” but okay. Oddly, the phone number turns out to be a free Google Voice number.
The caller identified himself as P. Nichols but didn’t give a full first name. He was happy to be interviewed about the study, however. I’d identified myself as the Science Editor at PJ Media; my first question was where I could find a copy of the study.
He laughed a little and said “it’s a real study, done with standard polling techniques, but the study was funded by a Republican PAC, and I’m tied up in so many contracts and things that I can’t possibly show you the actual study.”
He went on to describe the methodology. “This Republican group had a particular result in mind, and we helped them find it. The way they put it was that they needed to separate the ‘TEA Party’ types from the Republican Party. ‘If your hand has cancer, you want to cut off the hand before it kills you,’ was their explanation of the motivation.”
The study, he said, was a four-year study with more than 5000 subjects. “We didn’t look at areas with educated populations, or in cities. In fact, we had trouble finding people in those categories who watched Fox News. Instead, we looked for uneducated, rural people — the people who actually believe that women’s bodies will prevent conception by rape. Those sorts of people.”
Interestingly, he also said the motivation for the study was the election results this year. Hmm.
Now, I’d Googled for the “Intelligence Institute” — all I found was a guy in Sydney, Australia, who does business intelligence consulting (and whose email I suspect will be a real horror by tomorrow). So I asked about that. “Oh, that’s a pseudonym,” Nichols said. “The people who funded this study wanted these results to come out, and the news release organization wouldn’t accept this unless we gave an organization name.”
The description of the population they selected struck me odd: rural, un-educated — wouldn’t that be selecting for people with lower IQ? He disagreed, but said, “The sample was selected with a goal in mind.”
I finished the interview by asking some summary questions. Were the results going to be published? “No, can’t publish the results, I wouldn’t risk the funding groups’ lawyers.” And the funding source was confidential? “Yes, I can’t identify the source of the funding.”
I pointed out that this added up to a not very convincing story — the population selection was, by his own admission, made with a predetermined outcome in mind, and he couldn’t identify the source, or the source of funding, and they were releasing it using an admittedly made-up institution as the supposed source. He agreed. He said, “The funding source wants these results out. They’d rather have people not believe it’s real than be identified.”
So there you have it. A four-year study sparked by the outcome of the recent election, from an institution that’s admittedly a fake, from a company that won’t identify itself, supposedly funded by a Republican PAC trying to “cut off” the Tea Party like a cancer, using a sample that was chosen with a particular result in mind, with a contact number that’s an anonymous free Google Voice number.
By the way, the link for “further information on this study” actually points to a Huffington Post story about last years’ Fairleigh Dickinson University study. You might recall that study was widely criticized for confusing “well-informed” with “agrees with the legacy media.” It would be interesting to call them and see what they have to say. I think it’s fair to say I’m skeptical. The whole news release follows on the next page.
Our own Steve Green interviews often-contributor and Prometheus Award winner Sarah A. Hoyt. Watch it. We’ll wait.
Sarah’s new book Darkship Renegades comes out Tuesday.
Anthony Watts looks at the real viewership of Al Gore’s “24 Hours of Climate Reality” — as well as the pseudoscience involved — and learns Many Interesting Things:
The data gathered from the broadcast doesn’t support the 16 million viewer total. Asanalyzed by a telecommunications expert it suggests the final number might be inflated, especially since the Gore team apparently had the “current viewers” count removed from the USTREAM video player, leaving only the total views count. If you look at any other USTREAM live feed, you’ll see two sets of numbers, representing current and total viewers. The current viewers count on Mr. Gore’s channel remained in the 10,000-12,000 range during the part of his broadcast where that number was available. The question is, why would they need to remove the “current viewers” counter mid broadcast?
A second independent analysis of the data suggests that some electronic virtual viewers were involved, concluding from a mathematical analysis of the numbers that “At least 85% of total views were bots cycling every 10 seconds.”
Gore is running another 24 hour telethon about global warming, saying “Dirty fossil fuels have created a world of Dirty Weather.” In response, Anthony Watts of “Watts Up with that” has his own 24 hour response. Give it a look.
A quote from Sarah Hoyt:
[W]hen people like me stay quiet, when for our self-interest and because the loony left are vindictive harpies (particularly the men) as fond of free speech as your average brown shirt, we allow the other side to define us. As we saw in [a] stunningly clueless comment yesterday, they’ll decide it’s all race, or that we want to control their ladyparts, because that’s the screams from the other side, who would much rather you don’t look at their record, or, OMG Benghazi.
Read it all.
Okay, now back to work.
(Update: Sarah Hoyt was thinking similar thoughts.)
There is an appropriate amount of moaning and soul searching over the election in 2012, and I plan to do some myself as soon as my wrists heal, but there’s a point I really would like to examine, a hypothesis I would really like to see falsified.
Here it is: Mitt Romney’s membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints may have turned the election.
Certainly plenty of other things helped, from Sandy to the really shameless bias of the legacy media. But there’s this one thing about the election….
You may recall, I was predicting a Romney blowout, based on the really odd party ID split — the Rasmusses party ID was +6 Republican, the polls were finding samples of +6 or more D. The final turnout was about +6 D. Now, I know I said on more than one occasion that no matter what, the polls were going to be wrong, because they were contradictory, but we didn’t know which way. I guessed wrong.
The real vote, though, as Rick Moran pointed out, wan’t that far apart — one of the features of the Electoral College is that it turns small margins into bigger elector margins, which makes nationwide recounts unnecessary. The total number of votes by which the Republicans lost is in the neighborhood of a million.
And GOP turnout was 14 million less than 2008. More people self-identified as Republicans than any time since 2004; 14 million fewer Republicans voted than in 2008. I think we have to consider the possibility there was a reverse-Bradley effect here: a whole bunch of Republicans just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Mormon.
I hope it’s not true, and if there is an afterlife of punishment, I think Andrew Sullivan (among others) tilted their scores heavily that direction by the glaring anti-Mormon bigotry they exhibited in the last days of the election. But I sure would like to know why I should believe it’s not true.
By God, I’m going to use the sheep again.
Here’s a response to a friend – albeit liberal, still a friend — who raised this to me on Facebook. His name removed because I already hit him with it once.
I’m not in the mood to actually point out in detail the difference between being left hanging on the phone in a seven hour firefight while you wait in an unfortified, unprotected building, being defended by two ex-Seals with a machine gun, and wondering if you’re going to die, while the President goes to bed so he won’t be tired at his fundraiser in Vegas and doesn’t order in any help, and being in a well-defended up-to-spec compound in which someone makes a suicide attack that is unable to really get to the occupants. So don’t start it, or I’ll have to point out that it’s the stupidest equivalence made in the last 20 years of political discourse, that completely ignores the terror, pain and suffering of the people on site and the families who have had to take seven weeks of dissimulation, not to mention the poor guy who still rots in jail because it was convenient to blame it on a video when open intelligence before the fact was pointing to attacks on 9/11/12, and who is probably a dead man if he is released because it was convenient to Obama’s campaign to blame some poor clown with a videocamera to avoid admitting anything.
So, given that, maybe it would be better if you don’t bring it up.
Friend, and occasional PJ contributor Mark Stuertz, has put together this short video from a lecture by Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, saying:
Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, explains how Islamists have penetrated the U.S. Government and both the Obama and George W. Bush Administrations to undermine Western Civilization and attempt to Institute Shariah Law in America.
The short version:
There’s also a full-length version:
[Follow the link, there's some layout problem happening]
It’s very hard to reconcile this with D+11 polls like CNN’s.
The new Presidential Tracking Poll is out.
Remember, a difference within the margin of error is no difference.
Slate just published their own editors votes. Interesting point: Obama’s support in that group dropped from 96 percent to 83 percent — in other words, 13 percent “defected”, which matches quite well with the Washington Post polling I reported in “Keep Calm and Finish Him“.
Once again, Obama had 53 percent of the vote in 2008. 87 percent (100 percent minus 13 percent defections) of 53 percent is 46 percent.