Archive for the ‘science’ Category

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.
  — Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997, p. 50

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Richard Glover in The Sydney Morning Herald expresses violent fantasies to hurt and kill the “climate-change deniers”.  This is nothing new.  Richard Curtis of Project 10:10 created the film “No Pressure” in which people, including children, are literally blown into bloody pieces for not sufficiently participating in a Big Brother style energy reduction mandate.  As usual, this is passed off as satirical humor, but the prevalence of this violent, murderous fantasy amongst eco-dogmatists should give decent people pause, particularly when one considers how collectivist dogmatists, when they have attained authoritarian power, have caused the deaths of tens of millions in famines and purges, just a few decades ago (Great Leap Forward, Ukrainian Terror Famine, Cambodian Year Zero).  Sure, it’s unlikely that the most fanatical, dangerous elements of the green movement will attain sufficient power to repeat the horrors of the recent past. But it’s not impossible and decent people must pay attention to the likes of Richard Glover and Richard Curtis and any politicians who lend credence to their fanaticism.

Keep your eye on these sickos. They are the real dangerous ones.

Note that instead of calling people skeptics, and instead of addressing the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) hypothesis directly (he indirectly supports it by fantasizing about “deniers” drowning in low-lying islands), he uses weasel words: “deniers” and “climate change”.  All responsible CAGW skeptics acknowledge that temperatures have risen since 1900 and nobody in their right mind denies that climate changes.  Indeed, during the past several centuries, the climate has changed drastically, from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age (which puts a lie to Newsweek’s alarmist revisionism, describing the climate of the last 12,000 years as being “stable”).

So, when you make an honest comparison between what CAGW alarmists claim and how skeptics of CAGW respond, the charges leveled at skeptics of “boneheaded[ness]”, stupidity, dishonesty, and being politically motivated don’t make sense.

The Inquisition convicted Galileo of heresy for denying the geocentric view. This false view that the Earth was immovable and the center of the universe was considered “settled science” at the time. Basically, most every “scientist” who opined on astronomical matters at the time went along with the erroneous theory, which was driven by religious dogma not data, because of the political power of the church. Go against the church and you risked punishment, up to and including death.

Today, Galileo is held in high esteem as the father of modern physics. But during his life, he suffered for applying rational skepticism which challenged the political order of the day.

Compare the geocentric theory with the CAGW theory, the alarmist view that gases produced by human industry are driving global warming which will cause catastrophic disasters—melting ice caps, rising sea levels, crop failures, mass starvation, extinctions. So far, the early CAGW predictions of 50 million climate refugees by 2010 (which they then tried to toss down the memory hole, pretending it never happened), and others, have not been accurate. (Going back a couple decades, we can laugh riotously at even older predictions which are preposterous in hindsight.)

And yet, despite the failures of the CAGW alarmists to accurately predict the past 15 years and their duplicitous revisionist claims that colder winters, more snow, fewer hurricanes were actually predicted (playing the “heads I win, tails you lose” game), Richard Glover doubles down by dismissing “deniers” as “boneheads” who somehow have already been shown to be wrong.  Really?  Where?

Warren Meyer has put together a presentation and a layman’s guide to highlight the errors of CAGW alarmists.  Anthony Watts puts up some great articles as well at Watts Up With That?  Many other bloggers and more traditional journalists cover these topics as well.  Unfortunately for Richard Glover’s lazy strawman, none of these people fit the caricature of the Neanderthal “denier” who reflexively denies all scientific data.  Indeed, you’ll find a lot of careful arguments using the alarmists’ own data against them.

Ironically, Richard Glover asks, “Is it possible to get the politics out of the climate-change debate?”  Certainly, but he won’t like the results. All the fat grants which give scientists incentives to produce politically favorable results will dry up.  The laws and regulations, which are created via politics, will no longer unduly punish people for living a modern lifestyle.  The free market will not be assailed by anti-capitalists (from socialists to Mussolini-style fascists) under the guise of “saving the Earth”.

Oh, and if you’re going to keep politics out of the debate, then keep entertainers like Cate Blanchett and James Cameron on the other side of the line dividing serious people from those who make pretend as a career.

But let’s just give Richard Glover and his ilk the benefit of the doubt for just a minute.  For the sake of argument, assume that the CAGW predictions of several degrees C increase in a matter of decades are accurate.  If that is the case, then his notion that “a carbon tax that seeks to subtly redirect some of our choices” will stave off such a drastic outcome is ridiculous. You might as well take ice cubes from your freezer outside to cool the atmosphere for all the good these modest austerity measures will produce.

The reality is that only massive destruction of the industrial capacity of all nations, a forced return to the pre-Industrial lifestyle of our ancestors (a la Pol Pot’s Year Zero and Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward) will ever drive down emissions sufficiently to reverse the warming.  So, basically, hundreds of millions will die and the survivors will have to be satisfied with having the consumption level of a contemporary Third World resident. (Except, of course, the Al Gore types who will run around in limousines and jets.)

In contrast to the smug self image of basing one’s opinions on rational, factual science, New Age religious views and the fantasies played out in fictional stories like Fern Gully and Avatar—which ascribe imaginary spiritual, magical attributes to nature—often drive childish people to wish away the complexities of the real world, including a highly unpredictable natural world and the matter of individual rights of human beings.  And, when people aren’t being childish and ignoring uncomfortable facts, but still disregard the rights of others and try to shout down skeptics as heretical, fantasizing about violence and murder, they are following in the footsteps of totalitarians.  Even Richard Glover admits that his tattoo idea is “Nazi-creepy”, and yet the rotten sicko still wrote his article and sent it to be published.

Update: Minor grammar corrections.

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From The Daily Mail:

“Jupiter has lost one of its iconic red stripes and scientists are baffled as to why.

“The largest planet in our solar system is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere, with one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

“However, the most recent images taken by amateur astronomers have revealed the lower stripe known as the Southern Equatorial Belt has disappeared leaving the southern half of the planet looking unusually bare.

“The band was present in at the end of last year before Jupiter ducked behind the Sun on its orbit. However, when it emerged three months later the belt had disappeared.”

How long before some scientist blames global warming?

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Radley Balko links to an article at Slate explaining the maddening trade-offs involved in tuning keyboard and fretted instruments. I was blissfully unaware of the concept of musical temperament and just assumed that musical notes were perfectly laid out in simple, integral frequency ratios. Thanks, Balko, for making me feel even stupider about music theory.

My introduction to playing music was on a trumpet in the sixth grade, which meant I had a very narrow perspective: one note at a time. I could hear when I didn’t harmonize with another person’s instrument, but that was either a matter of tuning, or a simple result of someone playing the wrong note. Not until high school did the band directors even attempt a cursory sketch of music theory: major, minor, and perfect intervals. Otherwise, it was just rote learning. Play what’s on the page.*

Being a math geek, it always bothered me that the notes on a major scale were not symmetrical, making each letter two semitones apart–the reason there isn’t a black key between every white key on a piano. Why not use a hexatonic, or whole tone scale, so an octave involved six notes instead of the seven notes in a diatonic scale? Put a black key between each white key and adjust accordingly. A C-major scale would no longer be void of accidentals, but wouldn’t that force neophyte musicians to grasp just exactly how a major interval differs from a perfect interval? Alas, the symmetry of such a scale was swapped out for the concept of the tonic. Having done most of my playing on a one-note horn, and never having been taught improvisation, I still only have a fuzzy grasp of harmonics. The idea of connecting that to what’s on sheet music and what’s on a piano or guitar comes as naturally to me as playing Boggle in Spanish. I have a rookie-level ability to pronounce printed words (I have to look up how to pronounce words like “ciudad”) and would be an abysmal failure at writing down words I know by ear (“quatro” vs. “cuatro”).

Another mystery to me was the “Every Good Boy Does Fine” vs. “Good Boys Do Fine Always” discrepancy (treble clef versus bass clef). It didn’t matter to me when I stuck to one instrument. But after a few lessons on the classical guitar (which was already rough going), I was asked to take lessons on the electric bass guitar to replace another student (Chris W.**) in the jazz band, because he was moving. If I recall correctly, his family had a change of plans so he quickly returned and I was spared the agony of compounding two unfamiliar tasks–playing a string instrument and reading bass clef. Unfortunately, it also meant I never resumed the classical guitar lessons.

* On my list of most embarrassing moments is the time I was hired at age 17 to be part of a trumpet trio playing Christmas music in front of a large congregation. At the last minute, we were told to transpose to another key to make it easier for the pianist. The other two more experienced players said “no problem” but I managed to inject a plethora of sour notes. “A little bit of humiliation goes a long way.”

**My Best Man at my wedding, Carlos, played with Chris in a band, doing gigs for high school parties. They were often arguing over what songs to play. As a bassist, Chris was always wanting to play Rush songs, which are heavy on Geddy Lee’s bass playing. Chris was most famous in the high school band for keeping a book of quotes of our band director’s humorous impromptu aphorisms. After it became well-known, Mr. M. would add, “Put that in your little book, Mr. W!” afterwards.

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What do you call a diet which is limited to Paleolithic foods our ancestors ate, adding back in whole dairy products?

I was trying to come up with a name for such food choices. Previously, I’d made an impromptu, but detailed outline of my own Paleo-inspired menu. But try explaining that to someone in a sentence or two. It was no surprise that when “lacto-paleo” popped into the old gulliver that googlefound over 1,000 hits. It’s just too obvious.

From one of the links comes Mark Sisson’s* The Definitive Guide to Dairy, in which he offers detailed information (did you know there were A1 cows and A2 cows, with different characteristic caseins?). To help readers determine if dairy fits their goals, he sensibly suggests eliminating all dairy for a month to see how you feel. After that, resume using dairy and contrast your health symptoms. Personally, I’m not ready to try the dairy cessation experiment just yet.

Blue’s Paleo Page and Blue’s Diet Page provide a sensible framework for a Lacto-Paleo diet. She has some interesting facts about “New World foods” (squash, cucumbers) and Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers). I love those foods (but will avoid potatoes now until I lose lots of pounds).

The Paleo Diet Defined is chock full of information (some of which I question), and provides a link to PāNu, described as lacto-paleo (even though the Get Started page says, “12. Eliminate all remaining dairy including cheese- (now you are ‘Orthodox paleolithic’).” I haven’t read too much of PāNu, but it looks promising.

* Mark’s Daily Apple is one of the most informative Paleo/Primal/Evolutionary fitness websites I’ve found, so far. His website is well organized, but a few articles I’d pick out for an intro are: this, this, this, and this.

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Anyone who has been reading about honest nutritional science will not lift an eyebrow when Radley Balko says, “What do you know, the experts may have been wrong again…” to blame saturated fat for cardiovascular disease:

Ultimately, saturated fat…may be neutral for the heart. Meanwhile, some mono-unsaturated fats…and some poly-unsaturated fats…could be good for the heart.

If saturated fat doesn’t adversely affect cardiovascular health, what does? Sorry, Nabisco: We should be giving a closer look to foods with a high glycemic index—a measure that reflects a food’s influence on blood sugar levels, based on how quickly it is digested and absorbed. Typically, that means carbohydrates like cereal, bread, chips, and cookies.

In a 2000 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Harvard researchers…found that the quintile of women who ate food with the highest glycemic load—a measure that incorporates portion size—had twice the risk of developing heart disease than the quintile who ate food with the lowest glycemic load. A 2008 meta-analysis of 37 studies reported a significant association between intake of high glycemic index foods and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder disease, and breast cancer.

Read the full articlefor more details.

Meanwhile, CNN stupidly ignores the role of sugars in an article titled Fatty foods may cause cocaine-like addiction. Ironically, they call processed food “purified” and “evolve[d]” when comparing its addictive qualities to “evolved” drugs like cocaine (as compared to coca leaves).

Look at the ingredients on your box of “low-fat” whole-grain packaged food. You’ll see dozens of laboratory chemicals and industrially mutilated plant byproducts. How is that more purethan a grass-fed rib-eye steak? Or a serving of vegetables, nuts, or fruit you buy in their whole, unadulterated form and prepare yourself? And, how can they use the word “evolved” without remembering how the human metabolism evolved almost entirely before agriculture (and definitely before industrial junk food and sedentary TV/Internet lifestyles)?

Eat like our paleo ancestors did, whole foods including fatty meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Skip the packaged stuff. Stay active as much as possible, but don’t engage in unnatural aerobic or “cardio” workouts (animals don’t run on treadmills–they walk around all the time and occasionally sprint).

Mark Sisson gives the lowdown on sugar, how it is so destructive to our health. And still, the “common wisdom” is that fat is the evil.

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