Wednesday, October 24

V. global warning alarmism, then evolutionism, and back again

I always like to repost my articulate comments from elsewhere, raise the IQ of this weblog a little, ya know? ;-)

So here's one I thought was pretty good from Tom's site. Big discussion of Gore's Nobel, Bjorn Lomborg, etc. 'jim' (not buddy Jim over here I don't think) commented that he thinks the scientific community is risking its credibility in their approach to global warming. I wrote:

jim: good point though i think the scientific community has already hurt its credibility, ie, it's past the risk. and this isn't the only issue, either...

the postmodern critique pointed out the limits of rational inquiry some time ago. science in general has seemed fairly oblivious to this critique, for good and ill.

now we are seeing the politicization of science without attendant awareness that subjectivity is involved. the scientific 'consensus' is simply presented as 'fact'.

Of course, another area which I criticize in this regard is evolutionism and the demonization of all who believe in some form of creation in which evolution does not suffice to get from nothing to complex life.

In other crappy scientism news, Clive Thompson at Wired says scientists should change their terminology to the Law of evolution since the unwashed masses don't understand that a theory can be 99% proven. Well, yes: if you rule God out of bounds from the start, evolution's the best explanation left. Of course, Thompson's rhetoricizing here, because evolution can't really be proven, especially in retrospect.

Before anyone goes berserk, I'm not saying there's not evidence for evolution. But Thompson sort of implies that evolution is 99% proven by referring to the possibility of a theory being 99% proven. Evolution is patently not 99% proven. It can't be, because it's in the past. Unless your proof is constituted by 'Well, we're here, and there's obviously no god, so...'

Again, a big part of the problem here is presuppositions. If science restricts itself to inquiry with absolutely no reference to God, then evolution makes sense. What other explanation could their be?

But, if we move back to presuppositions and allow the possibility of God and I ask you what makes more sense: an Intelligent Designer or complex life from nothing, the answer to me is clear.

It's the start of the disconnect: to atheists, belief in any form of creation is utterly unwarranted. To deists, the absolute exclusion of creation is nonsensical.

No wonder very few of us on opposite sides can meaningfully discuss this issue.

And, by the way, regarding the title of this post: I'm not denying global warming. I'm agnostic on it and willing to stipulate the IPCC's work.

I do question the extent of human causation. Further, following Tom and Lomborg, I question the imperative of re-tooling our global economy around global warming, killing ourself to fight back a few degrees (out of the total) while people are dying in the undeveloped world, today, of simple disease and malnutrition and lack of jobs and security and access to capital. We want to spend billions, and maybe cripple our economy, for possible ecological savings for those of us in the developed world while we don't care about those in the developing world that we could save right now for pennies on the dollar.

Not to mention the Law of Human Ingenuity. I'm betting, in my policy recommendations (which, of course, will make no difference ;-), that we'll figure out ways to live with global warming, if it's as bad as some people predict it will be: solar shade, seed the clouds, sequester carbon in the ocean, build sea walls, undersea colonies, or even arcologies. I don't know. But when it gets bad enough, we'll come up with something.

Not to mention the fact, which I've alluded to above, that global warming countermeasures may very well cripple the economies of developing countries that need more money today and need more wealth to deal with the possible effects of predicted global warming.

(By the way, the UN already predicts that developing nations will have much more wealth to deal with this situation in the event of rising seas, etc.)

Okay, flame off.

(Sorry I didn't warn you about the flame on ;-)

Monday, October 22

Last (planned) Ireland post

Two things:

I really like County Meath's logo:

So our version would be:

(Best I could do with ;-)

The first place we drove to in County Meath was the Hill of Tara, historic home of the High Kings of Ireland. We had trouble finding it in our little rental car, trying to follow signs, being directed down one lane roads.

It was crazy! This famous, historic location is out of the way, with barely and services at all. Here in the States, we'd have a Hill of Tara Amusement Park and Campground. I teasingly told Christine I'd found my life's calling: to develop the Hill of Tara ;-)

There's not much left on the site: some mounds and a standing stone.

Check out our pictures from the Hill of Tara. Begin here (and don't forget to read my comments below the pix).

Sharon's big gig

My friend, Sharon, posted the video of her appearance on The Daily Show last year. Check it out:

Saturday, October 20

Brú Na Bóinne: Newgrange

This is probably going to be my last Ireland post. I think it's overdue, don't you? ;-)

While Knowth is the most impressive Brú Na Bóinne site in terms of amount of archaeological data, Newgrange is the most impressive recreation of what the megalithic tombs of Ireland might have been like. There is, of course, controversy about the restoration. Be that as it may, Newgrange is very impressive.

Newgrange is the oldest surviving building in the world and was built in such a way that at dawn on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, a narrow beam of sunlight for a very short time illuminates the floor of the chamber at the end of the long passageway...

Originally built between c.3300-2900 BC according to Carbon-14 dates it is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge trilithons by about 1,000 years...

The Newgrange mound is 250 feet across and 40 feet high, and covers an entire acre. Within the mound, a long passage, stretching approximately one third of the length of the mound, leads to a cruciform (cross-shaped) chamber. The passage itself is over 60 feet (18m) long. The burial chamber has a corbelled roof which rises steeply upwards to a height of nearly 20 feet (6m). A tribute to its builders, the roof has remained essentially intact and waterproof for over 5,000 years...
The entrance to Newgrange features "one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art":

(Click the image to see a much larger picture.)

Our guide ran down some of the theories about what, if anything this art signifies. My favorite was the three mounds (left) with the river running beneath them.

Notice also, in the picture above, the roofbox that the light shines through on the Winter Solstice to illuminate the inner chamber.

Friday, October 19

Tony Tony Tony

Did you see Tony Snow on the Daily Show?

Pretty good. Wrong format for real debate, and Jon talked too much. (Be sure to watch the second one, too, if you want to get the whole picture.) Tony handled himself really well. I would have said 'Jon, I'm not taking any more questions from you until you let me answer one' ;-)

Any you know me. I mostly agree with Jon.

Even makes me like the President a little bit more ;-)

(This is a shout-out to the Stokeses [1] [2], three of whom share an alma mater with Tony.)

Monday, October 15

What is my problem?

+ defective yeti is hosting a group reading of Catch-22. I'm seriously thinking of joining in, especially since I've never read it before...

+ Al's Nobel leaves me cold (get it? ;-). As usual, I agree with Bjorn Lomborg instead. Check out his op-ed on the occasion. (via tdaxp?)

+ Led Zeppelin is finally distributing their music digitally. Time for me to pick up 'Cashmere'.

+ Dan had a bad football day, but I, finally, had a great football weekend. The Hawks and the Gamecocks won on Saturday. The Vikings and Patriots won on Sunday. Heck, my fantasy team even almost won (anchored by Tomlinson, Brees, Welker, and Jones-Drew), but my brother had Brady and Peterson.

Heck (Marshall, you still reading?), Jeff Gordon even won on Saturday. He's the NASCAR driver I'd pull for if I followed it at all.

That's all for now!

Saturday, October 13

V. DirectBuy

My buddy Dan tdaxp is fighting a company called DirectBuy because they are fighting things like free speech. It's a hard sell company (that uses spam pages) that follows with copyrighted (to try to prevent republishing) cease and desist letters. And somebody's sanitizing their Wikipedia page.

Saturday, October 6

Bad sports life

Sure, the Cubs won the Central, but now they're down to single-game elimination. The Hawks and Vikings are up to their old tricks. My fantasy football team is absolutely horrible (leveraged on Chargers and Saints) with no wins and the fewest points in the league by far.

All I'm left with is my bandwagon Patriots and marginally adopted SC Gamecocks.

I'd rather one of my real teams do something.

Friday, October 5

The ancestral homeland

And another thing I've been thinking about:

Meath. Remember how I wrote that the 'th' is often shortened to 'd' and it's pronounced 'Meade'? And that's where our last name is originally supposed to have come from.

Well, it was also spelled 'Midhe' in the past, or 'Mídhe' or just plain 'Míd'.

In this case, the 'i' or 'í' is pronounced 'ee' like in Spanish.

Nowadays, in Irish, it's just 'Mí'.

And it just means what it looks like: 'mid', 'middle'. The middle kingdom (yes, we're talking small kingdoms here, were there were many little kings (chieftains, really) and one High King).

Meath is sometimes called 'the royal county' and, in addition to Brú na Bóinne also has the famous sites, as Irish as you can get, of Tara and Kells. It was one of the five kingdoms of medieval Ireland.

Keep your eyes on the ball

I know I have been distant, neglecting this weblog. Just haven't felt much like writing after a day of writing.

But, I had a comment on Tom's website today that I thought was worth re-posting over here.

The context is a post about Obama proposing we get rid of nuclear weapons.

This really does not fit in with Tom's vision of the world. Nuclear weapons have been a key part of the end of great power war.

A commenter said Obama's proposal wasn't that bad.

I wrote:

right, nukes aren't a deterrent in asymmetrical warfare. but don't throw great power war out with the asymmetrical bathwater. great power war is still the greatest danger we face. not likely at this time and lets keep it that way.

it's not disingenuous at all to modernize our nukes and 'lecture' other countries on not developing them. we are the deterrent (along with a few others). most countries have bought off on this and eschewed the chance to go nuclear. they trust us in the long run to do the right thing.

(Israel, India and Iran are different cases, in some tough neighborhoods. Iran sensibly wants to deter an invasion after we capped both its neighbors. too bad we didn't lock them into a security agreement before we did Afghanistan.)

sure, de-target, reduce the number, etc. stipulated. but the main issue is continuing the expansion of globalization by continuing to stave off great power war, the most effective means of shrinking the Gap, period.