Archive for January, 2007

We Remember

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Friday is coming. It means something important, and it’s got nothing to do with a groundhog. What is it?

Hint: Check this sidebar resource. You’ll only have to read a few of his posts to figure out where I’m going, he’s very much into it. As we all should be.

Answer to be revealed Friday…of course.

The Donner Cut

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Even though it’s just a cursory Google hit, I’m a little surprised it’s only bringing back one result. The joke is so old, the first time I heard it I laughed so hard I kicked the slat out of my crib, y’know?

One day Superman was feeling a bit horny. So, he began to ask his superhero friends for ideas on where he could get a bit of action. “Hey Batman! Who’s good in the sack?”

“Well Superman, everyone knows that Wonderwoman is the best sex in comicland. Why don’t you try her?”, replied Batman.

“I’d love to, but Wonder Woman and I are friends. So I don’t really want to take advantage of her.”

“Darn shame,” said Batman as he waved goodbye to Superman and drove off.

Ten minutes later Superman was flying low over a city when he saw the Green Lantern patching up a building. He flew down. “Hey G.L., I’m looking for a little action. You’re a swinging bachelor, who’s the best babe in comicland?”

“Hey, Superman! Everyone knows that Wonderwoman is far and away the best lay in comicland, why don’t you try her?”

“Well, we’re sort of friends,” Superman said, “but I didn’t realize she had gotten around so much” and he flew off in frustration.

Hey, that's Wonder Woman!Twenty minutes later he was flying over a field when he saw Wonderwoman lying naked, in the middle of the field, with her legs apart and up in the air.

Superman was tempted. ” MAN !!!” he thought to himself, “I’m faster than a speeding bullet, I can be in and out of there before she even knows I’m here.” So with a blur and a sonic boom he was down, in and gone.

Wonderwoman stared up into the sky with a dazed expression. “What the hell was that??” she exclaimed.

“I don’t know,” said the Invisible Man as he rolled off, “But my ass is killing me.”

I bring this vulgarity up for one reason and one reason alone: It’s not the reference to Superman. It’s the one line from that filthy slut Wonder Woman. Note the two question marks. Note the phraseology: Not “what was that,” but “what THE HELL was that.” This, friends, aptly sums up the nationwide critical response to Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.

Uh, unless you actually paid money to see it in a real theater. And then I think the Invisible Man’s reaction is more apropos.

Whatever. Good movies, bad movies, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Man of Steel. To me, he defines the distinction between DC Comics and Marvel…both of which have long ago been thoroughly infested with left-wing, Gorbachev-lovin’ granola-eating liberals. There are differences you know — Marvel, no matter what the day of the week, no matter what side of the bed the sunbeams hit first…Marvel would never, never, never ever ever, create a superhero like Superman.

Think about it. Does Superman have problems with his public image? Very rarely…and when he does, how much does he worry about it? His public reception, very simply, is not part of the story. He’s even got a Fortress of Solitude to mope around in if he chooses to. Now, put yourself in his boots. If you wanted to slink off, and go ’round all day every day muttering “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms” the F.o.S. is a kick-ass place to do it. And it’s his, and his alone. But does he do this? NO. There’s a danger, or else there isn’t…and if there isn’t, he’s going to be Clark Kent and type away at two thousand words a minute or something. Maybe pay a visit to Ma. If there is…there are planets to be thrown around. Either way, the angst over public image can wait. It goes to the bottom of the Super-inbox.

Uh, that’s not true of Spiderman. Not by a damn sight.

Another thing, Superman is just plain good. According to Marvel Comics doctrine, that dooms his stories to stale flatness; good guys must have something evil about them, and bad guys must have a strain of good, otherwise things get boring. But Superman stories aren’t boring. Not really…he has some Superstinkers here and there. Who doesn’t. Are there no rotten eggs from the X-Men? No sludge from the Fantastic Four? No installments that Daredevil would just as soon wish hadn’t happened? I rest my case.

Irony has its place. There are many among us however, who seem to be in a great big ol’ hurry to embrace irony where matters of good and evil are concerned. Like…we want to pretend it’s there to spice up a story, but the truth of it is we’re cowards. Some of us. Clarity where some people are in the right and others are in the wrong…can be frightening Some of us can’t handle it. It’s like a cross to Dracula.

And so Superman scares some people. Based on what I’ve seen in Marvel comic books, the whole entity seems dedicated to serving people who are so frightened…want some shades of gray with everything, no matter what the circumstances. Because it’s like a security blanket for them.

Anyway.

Back to the subject at hand.

I have been intrigued ever since I saw this review by Moriarty at Ain’t It Cool News.

About That “Richard Donner Cut” Of SUPERMAN II…
:
For non-fans, the question that no doubt comes to mind immediately is “But why do we need an alternate cut of SUPERMAN II in the first place? Wasn’t that one of the good ones?”

Indeed it was. But thanks to the Salkinds, it wasn’t the film that it was originally supposed to be. Basically, SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II were supposed to be made as one long film at the same time, then cut in half and released as separate films. Donner shot about 75% of the second film before he and the Salkinds hit a creative wall with each other, and he left the project. He ended up finishing the first film, and then they hired Richard Lester to come in and work to shape Donner’s footage into SUPERMAN II and to shoot whatever they had to in order to make it a finished film. That’s the short version of the story, but I’m sure you can find a dozen more detailed accounts if you do a quick Google search.

Okay, now you know the background. My order should be here Thursday at the latest, and I’m thrilled. It’s a whole lot of bang for the buck, for one thing — all the Superman stuff ever to hit the big screen, back to the first Christopher Reeve movie where he makes the world spin backwards. Fourteen discs, with good movies, awful movies, that brand-new one, this long-buried “Donner Cut” and a bunch of other related stuff.

Did you know you can get this for just north of seventy bucks now?

Great Caesar’s Ghost.

I Doubt It

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

America “squandering the world’s goodwill.” The Religious Right. Open-minded college grads and professors. Repentant murderers. I doubt them all.

Make a good case, and I’ll believe in some of them again. But as things sit now, every single shred I’ve ever been given to believe in such things, in my entire lifetime, has been confined to the realm of instructions on what I’m supposed to be thinking. No evidence, none at all.

I’m ready for some, and until I get it these ideas are indefinitely confined to idea-purgatory. Should’ve done it years ago.

Why It’s Wonderful To Be A Woman

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Yeah, I think I’ll keep my junk. Being a man has it’s perks too. But the author does make some good points.

40 Funny Reasons Why It’s Wonderful To Be A Woman

1. When a ship sinks, women (and children) get off first.

2. A woman can hug her best friend without worrying she’ll think she’s gay.

3. Women can talk to attractive members of the opposite sex without having to picture them naked.

4. A woman can never be blamed if it’s wet on the floor around the toilet bowl.

5. If a woman cheats on her spouse everyone will assume it’s because she was being emotionally neglected.

Read the rest

If Dr. Seuss Wrote Tech Manuals

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Texas Scribbler brings us this piece of weekend humor.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
Says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
That’s repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss
So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
‘Cause as sure as I’m a poet, the sucker’s gonna hang!

Kitty Spa

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Thanks to Boortz we learn about this YouTube item.

Don’t watch with cat lovers in the room. Don’t watch because…you will find yourself surprisingly unable to stop laughing. She’s your girlfriend, isn’t she? She’s known Mister Fluffy longer than you, right? Okay then DON’T CLICK. There will be other evenings you can spend on the couch later on. Sometimes domestic harmony is a good thing.

“Bush Does This A Lot”

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Oh he does, does he? And by “this” what we mean is, leaving the “ic” off of Democratic

Bush misses ‘-ic’ but hits a nerve

WASHINGTON – The president, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, left out a tiny little suffix that means a whole lot to some people. He did it so subtly you could have missed it. Just a little “-ic.”

Bush started the speech on a bipartisan note, honoring the first Madam Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and calling on the country to come together.

Then, “I congratulate the Democrat majority,” he said, dropping the last two letters of “Democratic.”

Bush does this a lot, and while it’s hard to say whether the omission was intentional in this instance, it is a semantic tactic that has been part of Republican warfare for decades. It’s a little thing, a means of needling the opposition by purposefully mispronouncing its name, and of suggesting that the party on the left is not truly small-”d” democratic. [emphasis mine]

Okay now President Bush has been in the oval Office for six years now and maybe my memory is a little rusty. But I seem to recall it being widely accepted as a little bit of a smear, a sign of disrespect intentional or otherwise, if the President of United States was consistently referenced using his surname alone. And I seem to recall that rule held for members of Congress as well. “Guess what Feinstein is up to this time?” would be snide. “Murtha is running his mouth off” would be smarmy. Agree or disagree, you were supposed to be paying due respect to the office if not to the occupant. Congressman. Chair/Chairman. Senator. President.

Our liberals wanted it to work a different way after December of 2000, because they didn’t think George Bush should have won the presidency. As usual, to get them to stop complaining we went ahead and did it the way they wanted, and he’s been “Bush” ever since.

So this tempest-in-a-teapot about “ic” — what is that? Are they saying they want to go back to the old way now?

On Doofus Dads

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Not sure where that celebrated piece of Americana, the Doofus Dad, is going from here. Sitcoms are always going to need dads, and their audiences are for the foreseeable future going to remain about 80% female. The audience for “fun family comedy movies,” almost by definition, will always be a hodge-podge…but our ladies have more to say about what fun flick to catch at the box office, than the gentlemen, so those efforts sink or swim based on their appeal to feminine sensibilities.

But I think the pandering to feminine whim, being synonymous with making Dad look like a putz, may be temporary. Juvenile resentment and hostility, even when simmering away beneath a thin disguise of humor, just isn’t funny. And ever since Archie Bunker the Doofus Dad has been subject to far more demand from those who offer him, than by those who consume him. He always needed some kind of a boost, because the audiences never found him inherently funny. It started with a laugh track, then other devices were used to lend the Doofus Dad device some support.

That’s good for the short term. But the Doofus Dad has lasted a generation or two by now. His staying power seems to be derived not from comedic value, but from the avoidance of taboo. As if the wrong people would be highly offended if a masculine character were portrayed in any way other than unreliable and/or incompetent. And yet, by itself how long would this sustain this tiresome, threadbare cliche? The Doofus Dad is thirty-six years old, give or take. Cartoons, summer comedies, family drama — these are environments that give rise to creativity and fresh ideas, perspectives and angles never attempted before. And the environment rewards ingenuity whenever & wherever it pops up. It’s certainly not friendly to stale ideas. Why such never-ending hospitality to this one?

John Tierney’s column in the New York Times from two summers ago offered a veritable bouquet of ideas:

Ward Cleaver has been replaced by a stock character known in the trade as Doofus Dad. Explaining this change isn’t easy, but if Ward were still around, he could puff his pipe and offer several theories.

The most obvious is that the television audience has splintered along gender lines, and sitcoms are now a female domain. Four out of five viewers of network sitcoms are women, and they apparently like to see Mom smarter than Dad.

Another explanation is the rising number of mothers with paying jobs. Now that they have their own paychecks, the old bread-earning patriarch is less essential and therefore more mockable. And TV writers no longer have an easy stereotype of Mom to work with. Jokes about daffy middle-class housewives like Lucy Ricardo and Edith Bunker seem dated now that so many women work outside the home.

Fathers are still the same old targets, and they’re even more tempting now that they’ve gotten a new image as shirkers thanks to widely reported findings about who does what at home. Even though more mothers have outside jobs, women still do about four more hours of child care and four more hours of housework per week, according to studies by the social scientists John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey.

Ezra Klein offered yet another theory having to do with selective tolerance:

It is, after all, a pretty interesting TV phenomenon. If the majority of shows presented other demographics the way they present fathers, they wouldn’t survive a day. Ignorant blacks? Bitchy, materialistic moms? Moronic, accident-prone dads? The whole set fits, but only the last is widely allowable.

Odd. Maybe white males, as the dominant majority, are secure enough in their power and public image not to mind? Maybe they’re the last demographic group safe to infantilize because, as of yet, they haven’t protested their portrayals? And is it white males, or do the black-acted sitcoms work off the same format?

This last one is not only persuasive, it is provable: Men can withstand humor at their expense, and even laugh at it sincerely themselves. Since the days of Vaudeville, no pratfall is funnier than a swift kick in the balls. That timeless joke about the three guys on the deserted island finding the genie in the lamp — you can tell that to a room full of fellas, and draw a good-natured chuckle or two. Anyone want to go to the “Sex in the City” viewing party, stand in front of the television during a commercial break, and tell the assembled foursome that howler about the bitch with two black eyes? It won’t be quite so funny. Yeah, you’ll bring down the house, just not in a way that you’ll like.

Well, this straight white male can bend and flex like any other, and perhaps he’s even more deserving of humor at his own expense than most other straight white males. I just wish, in the twenty-first century, family comedies were a bit more creative. They are supposed to be, after all; and as the guy who ends up paying for them, I’d like to see a few things I’ve not yet seen before. The Doofus Dad schtick lately has taken on a proclivity for covering everything wall-to-wall. The tedious trope starts while the opening credits are still onscreen, and at the final shot it’s just hit it’s stride, with everything in between just oozing out more of the same. And this is where I start to want my money back. It’s not about outrage or personal offense, it’s about paying good money for creativity and not getting it.

Even the bang-for-buck issue ceases to be worthy of concern once one steps outside my household. It’s just my own wallet, and the wallets and purses of other parents who are paying for witty fresh humor, and receiving paint-by-numbers products in return. Society is impacted only the theme of anti-competition, which because of this is disturbing on a wholely different level. Dad stops whacking himself in the forehead with a rubber chicken long enough to announce his desire that junior do his best. Dad thinks his boy has what it takes to win the ball game, ipso facto, he wants him to win.

As if we were in some religious ceremony, it is compulsory that this simple patriarchal desire stand revealed in the Act Two as something odious, destructive…cancerous. Dad doesn’t even have to insist on superlatives for the ritual to be thrown into high gear — comparatives will get things going just fine. Junior brought home a B- in the same class where he got a C last year. Mom is thrilled, Dad thinks Junior could get a B+ if he tried harder. That’s all it takes; off we go. Angst. Tears. Yelling. Suitcases packed, locks changed, a final monologue chock-full of righteous indignation by a wise “Neighbor Earl” sage character, or perhaps from the Mom. And the all-but-guaranteed “deer in the headlights” look from the errant Dad, straight into the camera lens with the whites all the way ’round the eyes, as he realizes what a raging dumbshit he is. This is all part of the package. None of it brings out genuine surprise in anyone, nor has any of it for the last twenty years or more.

But we treat it as something creative and fresh, because we’re told we should.

That’s a direct assault on the timeless human desire to do things well — a desire required for everything good that anybody enjoys in the world today. It is also, as I see it, an effort to replace fathers as role models. Since the first father ever became one, an instrinsic part of the fathering process has been to propagate ones’ values and prejudices in addition to his genetic fabric. This process is certainly subject to flaw, and much evil has been done through it. From where I sit, Hollywood’s solution is to banish it from human existence, by replacing the life-experiences and prejudices of fathers, with Hollywood’s own sensibilities. If that’s the case, the very best you could say about this is that it’s an attack on something demonstrated here & there to be somewhat harmful — but concentrated on the leafy part of the weed.

But I don’t accept it as something good. Hollywood is Hollywood; I’m a Dad. While my son remains impressionable, and thus required to take on someone else’s set of values and prejudices…he might as well take on mine. So we laugh at Doofus Dad movies. At them…not with them.

Well, he’s nine. Teenagerhood awaits, and then Hollywood can take another crack at ‘im. Some form of father-son conflict, with other parties jumping into the chasm where the wedge was driven…that’s a matter of when, not if. So I wish Hollywood the best of luck in their future conflicts with me. In this initial engagement, they’ve failed.

Cross-posted at RightLinx

About Jack Bauer

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Via This cool Microsoft security guy, several hundreds of things you didn’t know about Jack Bauer. When he was a kid, Jack Bauer tortured his Mom to find out what he was getting for Christmas. Jack Bauer CAN divide by zero, and he knows the last four digits of Pi, too. You pray to God; God prays to Jack Bauer. Chuck Norris wears a beard to hide the scar he got from Jack Bauer.

Kermit the Blitz

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Everybody else is posting it, I might as well too.

NO, I do not think the question was “outta line.” But the response certainly wasn’t either. Cheney’s was a class act. There’s a lot of “whodya root for” moments going on out there; this is not one of them.

Pay As You Go

Friday, January 26th, 2007

According to Pete du Pont, it’s a sneaky way to make Government bigger.

I’m Only 50% Socially Permissive

Friday, January 26th, 2007


You are a

Social Moderate
(50% permissive)

and an…

Economic Conservative
(71% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Capitalist


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Oh, and my political ideology is…


What is your political ideology?
Your Result: Conservative
 

This quiz has categorised you as a Conservative. You believe in a limited/minimal role in the government to solve social problems, and instead believe economic growth is paramount. It is possible you may identify with the “religious right” as well.

Libertarian
 
Fascist/Radical Right
 
Liberal
 
Social Democrat
 
Communist/Radical Left
 
What is your political ideology?
Make Your Own Quiz

I consider it a tragedy of dire consequence how “liberal” and “conservative” are being re-defined nowadays, and it’s stunning how lukewarm your ideas can be before you’re called the latter. Just thinking for yourself about what’s admirable, what’s depraved, what is & is not your business…that’s plenty enough to get ‘er done. That’s the C-word.

How do I go about being called a liberal? It seems to take more and more with each passing year. Acting as if the 9/11 attacks never happened, inventing brand-new civil rights for terrorists that never existed for anyone else before, screaming and yelling to have the “rich” taxed more and more, violating the constitutionally-guaranteed right to own guns all over the place — these things are “centrist” now. Treating Thomas Jefferson as some kind of modern Messiah when the discussion is separation of church and state, only to smear and sneer about Sally Hemmings when the subject changes to states’ rights. All this is regarded as middle-o-the-road stuff. Pretty sad, really.

Nope, That Took Me Completely By Surprise

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The Bond Girl from the latest 007 installment, Eva Greene, is Marlene Jobert’s daughter.

I have To Catch A Spy, and it’s one of my favorite stupid old spy-spoof flicks. Momma acted circles around Kirk Douglas, no mean feat that.

On Baby Videos

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Did Timothy Noah ever have anything against the baby video industry, before he could connect President Bush to it?

Best Sentence VII

Friday, January 26th, 2007

From the skinny blonde one Wednesday afternoon. A message for our times, specifically, these first few weeks of the new year…

…polls…are nothing but name recognition contests…’arsenic’ and ‘proctologist’ have sky-high name recognition going for them, too.

Who ever looks back on poll results fondly? Or wistfully? “Gee, I’m glad we looked at that poll.” “Golly, I wish we paid closer attention to the polls.”

They’re right…sometimes. Kind of in the same way a million monkeys at a million typewriters might eventually write MacBeth or something.

I Wish More People Got This

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Debating the minimum wage is a depressing experience for me, compared to other issues…like for example, gun control. People who disagree with me about gun control, think if you outlaw guns, you eventually get rid of them. I don’t think it works that way, but I can understand why they would. You want to get rid of guns…you make it illegal to own them…eventually, they’re gone. Okay. Understandable. Simplistic, wrong-headed…but understandable.

Minimum wage is different. I end up arguing with people over whether some third-party’s wages should be “raised”…and I have never quite found a diplomatic way of pointing out what these people are missing. That isn’t what a minimum wage law does. I simply pronounce what the law is all about, and we have to start arguing about that because it sounds like I’m indulging in extravagant fantasy about the long-term future effects of the law. I’m not doing that; I’m simply summarizing what the law is supposed to do. It OUTLAWS JOBS. That is what is written, that is the long-term effect, it is the immediate effect, it is what is done, it is what is supposed to happen. Guy A hires Guy B, if the terms of the contract between A and B don’t fulfill the parameters codified by the legislature, Guy A has broken the law. There are no funds collected, from anywhere, to supplement Guy B’s paycheck — and that is what would have to happen for anyone’s “wages” to be “raised.”

This is breathtakingly simple. It isn’t even logic. It’s just observing what’s happening, and recognizing what the argument is supposed to be about.

Once you recognize that, this article should yield no astonishing surprises, none at all. Yet some people will not only be surprised, they’ll refuse to acknowledge anything meritorious in it. Simply amazing.

Minimum wage hurts those it means to help

After the November elections — with the return of a Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress and the Indiana House — the minimum wage is receiving maximum attention. Applauded as everything from an effective poverty-fighting tool to the epitome of economic justice, a higher minimum wage is popular with politicians and the general public. But economists point to the demographics of the lowest-paid workers and note that small business owners may be unwilling to pay higher wages for the same productivity.
:
In any case, the punch line is that some poor people would be helped at the expense of other poor people — a curious attempt at economic justice and a less than impressive poverty-fighting tool. Those who keep their jobs would be better off while others would lose their jobs. Sadly, the latter would lose what they most need– an earned income and an opportunity to build job experience and skills. Ironically, the minimum wage steps on some of the most vulnerable in trying to help others.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XI

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Via blogger friend Phil: Self-explanatory. Good thing to remember for later when you see people bickering over whether a demonstration drew ten people or ten thousand.

Germans put price on protesting
They refuse to rally for neo-Nazis, but as long as the price is right a new type of German mercenary will take to the streets and protest for you.

Young, good-looking, and available for around 150 euros (£100), more than 300 would-be protesters are marketing themselves on a German rental website.

Also, “our country’s reputation” with other folks, like in Europe. In Germany, there has got to be a market for this. There would be no market for it at all, none whatsoever, if people just figured out what they figured out without absorbing pre-digested opinions from other people.

No, I’m not going to generalize across an entire continent. But there’s something going on there, and it doesn’t necessarily harbor a good example for us to follow here.

Yoda Rule

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

My nine-year-old son, who up until now has had the attention span of somethin’ like a hummingbird thanks to those no-good Japanese cartoons, has lately taken an interest in my Centennial collection. I was pleasantly surprised to see him stick out the first two chapters, which make up a good five hours. He pronounced that from disc 3 onward things go into a steep decline and “it gets boring.” But not until then.

I realized he’s right. And there’s a reason for this, that has something to do with where technology was, long before he was born.

In 1978, if something was on TV and you missed it, you couldn’t count on ever, ever seeing it again. So chapters three through twelve shoulder considerably less burden than chapters one and two. Up to eleven, each installment is barely an hour-and-a-half long. In the late 70′s, it was awfully tough to get bored in an hour and a half. I hadn’t noticed this before. Not consciously. Looking back on my experience with my DVD collection, I did find a lot more time for loading the dishwasher and doing my laundry after the first five hours, than during them.

So…I’m watching discs seven and eight and nine, and I’m noticing something that applies to television, movies, and books with other stories. Seems to be a universal trend. Not sure about it yet, I’ll have to chew on it for awhile.

Start with the relationship between a story, and the characters who contribute to it. Strong characters “feed” a strong story. If you have a weak story and you don’t know why, look to the characters who participate in it — usually, you’ll find you have a lot of weak characters. No ground-breaking revelations here; a character is defined to the point where you start to care about what happens to him, and then you read about something happening to him…you want to know more. That’s what makes you want to turn the pages.

So here’s the theory.

Just like a man succeeding, or failing, to capture the love-interest of a lady in the first five seconds after she’s seen him. A character is made weak or strong, almost completely, during his or her introduction. Now as television miniseries’ go, this one is outstanding. Near-perfect. This is perhaps the only flaw, certainly the most serious one: The never-ending mural of “I’m Henry Garrett and this is my son Bealy Garrett” becomes horribly, horribly monotonous.

Can you build a “weak” character, to whom you have given a creative, clever introduction? Can you settle for the bland, unimaginative, “Hi my name is so-and-so” introduction, and from that build a strong character?

I can’t think of an example of either one. Okay, a few kinda-sorta examples…nothing really powerful, to completely blow the theory out of the water. It seems to hold up.

Three ways I can imagine to carry this out:

One. Give the audience a puzzle. Make them do some work. Give them the name first, and drag out a red-herring that gives the impression this name belongs to somebody else.

Two. Distract the audience with a story involving the other characters already introduced…maybe even a story that will, ultimately, come to a dead-end. Fool ‘em into thinking this is a peripheral character, whom ensuing events, and a new storyline, will build into a primary one.

Three. Use an alias. The character masquerades under a phony name, and then very soon after his introduction there is an “Aha!” moment where his real name is revealed.

In the “Hero’s Journey,” the primary character doesn’t need any of these devices; we already identify with him.

Update:
I missed that fourth one, which should have been obvious. The Vader technique. Name second, stature first — with a grand, grand entrance, and an act of homicide in the first few minutes while anonymity still prevails.

Global Warming Links

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Well my goodness, they have been piling up without me putting out even a half-assed effort to keep up with them, huh?

It’s a very important issue for our time. We know the earth is getting much warmer lately, and that man is the only cause of it. If we reform our infrastructure, put so many factories out of commission that the world’s major superpower is corrupting our environment no more than the northern tip of Switzerland, come what may — we just might live. If we don’t, we’ll drown in one bitchin’ tsunami after another.

We know this to be true. How do we know it? Because our Democrats really played up the Mark Foley scandal and they were able to b-a-r-e-l-y take over Congress, so President Bush was cowed last night into saying:

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment – and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change. [emphasis mine]

So there ya have it. Congressman pervert sends nasty e-mails to page boys…new Congress…President says something…Presto. That’s the way we know things. Kind of reminds me of what Tommy Lee Jones said in Men in Black…a thousand years ago we knew the earth was the center of the universe, 500 years ago we knew the earth was flat and 5 minutes ago you knew we are alone in the universe. That is pretty much it. We “know” the earth is heating up and we “know” it’s our fault.

A few days ago I pulled this off the Wikipedia entry for the Weather Channel. I saved it because it looked useful, and in my opinion it did not comport with NPOV, the Neutral Point-of-View doctrine that is central to Wikipedia’s quality standards. See, I like NPOV myself, but I don’t think things have to be NPOV to be useful. You hear from both sides, however irrational and bigoted they may be, you’ll learn much more than if you just stick to the middle of the road.

But Wikipedia is not the place for this kind of practice. So it was easy to see, this was going to go away. So I saved it. Sure enough, it’s no longer there.

Controversies

On December 21, 2006, Dr. Heidi Cullen posted JUNK CONTROVERSY NOT JUNK SCIENCE… in The Weather Channel’s web site. Dr. Cullen’s posting took the position that American Meteorological Society (AMS) should strip the certification of any meteorologist that publicly questions that global warming is anything other than a manmade phenomenon. This position of marginalizing meteorologists who argue that recent weather variations may have a natural explanations struck many scientist as politically motivated and flawed. While Dr. Cullen and The Weather Channel denied any political motivation, the position generated significant editorial comment. JUNK CONTROVERSY NOT JUNK SCIENCE

The move away from scientific forecasting of the weather to sensationalized leftist political advocacy is in part due to the influence of Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel Networks. Lucas admitted in a recent interview with Media Village that the reprogramming of The Weather Channel was influenced by her tenure at CNN when that network shifted from presenting straight news to personality-driven programming. The Weather Channel Takes on Global Warming

I saw that one coming. What surprised me, was the scolding tone of the person who I’m assuming was responsible for the removal. He could be talking about something else; I hope so.

We have an anon IP who is continually inserting right-slanted edits into the section on the 2007 blog controversy. For what it’s worth, while conservatives seem to be trying to make this into a cause celebre (and there is some indication that this may be an astroturf campaign), the vast majority of the scientific community considers it to be a right-wing temper tantrum and therefore a tempest in a teapot. It also does not help that said anon clearly lacks the scientific background to be making knowledgeable contributions to this section — no, you’re not required to have a PhD, but a back-of-the-envelope understanding of the basic issues involved (as well as a firm grasp of the scientific definition of “theory”) would go a long way towards knowing what is needed to comment knowledgeably.

As it is, the article fails to reflect both that anthrogenic global warming is in fact the accepted scientific consensus, and that the vast majority of Dr. Cullen’s critics are coming from the right side of the political spectrum. Thoughts? [emphasis mine]

If this is the fellow responsible for removing the section quoted above, I approve of the action but strongly deplore his reasoning. Since my objection is to the reasoning, I don’t suppose it very much matters whether there is any connection at all between the Wonya Lucas tidbit, and Mister “back of the envelope” boy. His is an exercise in Clean Thinking, which over the long term is responsible for nothing that’s helped us, ever. Did it belong in Wikipedia? Absolutely not. Am I better off not knowing it? Eh…I don’t think so…and I somewhat resent having secrets kept from me, and having some bill-o-goods sold to me that this dumbing-down is for my benefit.

Wonya LucasI like knowing about Wonya Lucas. She seems to be a big part of the story. Earlier this month Melanie Morgan wrote up an expose that you’ll never get any of these “purists” to take seriously, since it appeared in WorldNet Daily. But it’s good to know.

The Weather Channel debuted in 1982 and went on to earn a reputation as a well-known and respected cable network. The explosive success of the cable channel prompted the publication of a book marking the network’s 20th anniversary. That success has been based on the fact that weather forecasts are sought after by a vast number of Americans on a near-daily basis.

What had been nice about The Weather Channel is that through most of its history it stayed clear of political propaganda and focused on delivering weather forecasts to the nation, supplemented with riveting live reports from the front lines of hurricanes, winter blizzards and springtime floods.

But no more. The Weather Channel is now engaged in a con job on the American people, attempting to scare the public that their actions are destroying the planet by creating a global warming crisis.

The move away from scientific forecasting of the weather to sensationalized leftist political advocacy is in part due to the influence of Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel Networks.

Lucas admitted in a recent interview with Media Village that the reprogramming of The Weather Channel was influenced by her tenure at CNN when that network shifted from presenting straight news to personality-driven programming.

Lucas decided that what was good for CNN was good for The Weather Channel, and the objectivity and respectability of the network has now been thrown out the window. It doesn’t matter that CNN’s turn to the left has caused their ratings to plummet; The Weather Channel’s embraced its model.

Media Village reported that the move by The Weather Channel “is intended to establish a broader perspective on the weather category and, says Lucas, to move the brand from functional to emotional.”

Emotional weather forecasting?

Good question. Mixing emotion and thinking can lead to some bad stuff. And some scientists are beginning to worry about it…just a little.

Problem is, global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, and last summer’s heat waves were equaled and, in many cases, surpassed by heat in the 1930s.

In their efforts to capture the public’s attention, then, have climate scientists oversold global warming? It’s probably not a majority view, but a few climate scientists are beginning to question whether some dire predictions push the science too far.

“Some of us are wondering if we have created a monster,” says Kevin Vranes, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado.

Now, I have been repeatedly instructed that I am supposed to believe “all” the scientists agree with the global warming mantra — the exceptions are limited to phony scientists who are “on the payroll of the energy industry.” I do not know if James Spann is on the payroll of the energy industry, but I’m confident that if he can be linked to it in any way, I’ll be told about it any minute now. Because he’s gone on the record and said something…unclean

The climate of this planet has been changing since God put the planet here. It will always change, and the warming in the last 10 years is not much difference than the warming we saw in the 1930s and other decades. And, lets not forget we are at the end of the ice age in which ice covered most of North America and Northern Europe.

If you don’t like to listen to me, find another meteorologist with no tie to grant money for research on the subject. I would not listen to anyone that is a politician, a journalist, or someone in science who is generating revenue from this issue.
:
I have nothing against “The Weather Channel”, but they have crossed the line into a political and cultural region where I simply won’t go.

So there ya have it. What we know about global warming, is that the earth has a “mean” temperature, and this temperature is subject to flux. Good thing that it is; what stays static, is limited to things that are dead. Tragically, we have linked the fluctuation to imminent death, when in reality it is a sign of life. The suggestion of doom, thanks to executives like Lucas, has caused a surge of adrenaline to inundate the issue and everything that touches it.

We have much written about it. Some of it is very well-thought-out and balanced, and some of it is anything but.

But the bottom-line is, as far as what everyone wants to know about — the theory that we’re causing our own imminent destruction — it’s probably a crock.

All our models of the earth climate are incomplete. That’s why they keep changing, and that’s why climate scientists keep finding surprises. As Rummy used to say, there are a ton of “unknown unknowns” out there. The real world is full of x’s, y’s and z’s, far more than we can write little models about. How do you extract the human contribution from a vast number of unknowns?

That’s why constant testing is needed, and why it is so frustrating to do frontier science properly.

Science is difficult because nature always has another surprise in store for us, dammit! Einstein rejected quantum mechanics, and was wrong about that. Newton went wrong on the proof of calculus, a problem that didn’t get solved until 1900. Scientists are always wrong — they are just less wrong now than they were before (if everything is going well).

This Is Good XXXIV

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

I finally found it. Great googley moogley, it’s good to see this again after all these years.

Funny stuff.

Helping Howard

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Last year I registered to receive updates from the Democratic National Committee. Yesterday morning, I received this.

Dear Friends,

I want your help.

My friend, Senator Jim Webb, has the honor of giving the nationally televised response to the president’s State of the Union speech tomorrow night.

He’ll be preparing his remarks tonight and tomorrow, and I want you to make your hopes, your dreams, and your thoughts about the state of our union part of our Democratic message.

Please take a moment to make your input part of the process by sending a note to Senator Webb as he prepares his remarks — we’ll deliver your message:

http://www.democrats.org/stateoftheunion

:
Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

My response:

Dear Dr. Dean,

Without regard to who belongs to what party, just speaking as an American I’m awfully tired of debating whether our current President is bad, or inarticulate, or stupid, or laboring under a delusion that he’s Chosen By God. When he’s going home in two years no matter what, we cross the point of diminishing returns awfully quick when we go down the “slander George Bush and everything will all work out” bunny trail. You’ve beaten that dead horse into a crater full o’jello. Enough. The man is a non sequitur. I suggest you treat him like one, or else you risk becoming one yourself.

Psychopaths are out there trying to kill Americans. That’s the Number One issue. What is the Democratic Congress going to do about it?

In answering that, I would start with the seven hundred mile fence. What is our new Congress going to do to actually get it built? What is our new Congress going to do to make it into a twenty-one-hundred-mile fence?

How about the student visas the nineteen hijackers used to get into the country? What will the 110th do to make that more difficult? How about an end to “random screening” at the airports? The potential for authoritarian abuse is obvious…will the 110th look out for the interests of everyday Americans, by standing up to this potential for authoritarian abuse?

Your party has a history of demanding fidelity over principle, as the nation saw in the last election with the Lieberman/Lamont debacle. That didn’t work out so well for you. How about a nice, symbolic resolution from the 110th Congress apologizing for the internment of Japanese-American citizens, calling out Franklin Delano Roosevelt by name? For FDR’s legacy to stand unblemished, America has to approve of what he did. This is unacceptable. For the good of the country, acknowledge the blemish is there. Stop hiding it. Show us you have what it takes, to recognize something putrid when it’s within your own tent.

May I suggest February 19, the 65th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, as an appropriate date to pass the resolution?

While you’re at it, deliver a good scolding to former President Carter. This country needs a lot of things right now, but “outspoken” ex-Presidents seeking to divide us — nobody with any intelligence at all thinks that’s one of them.

Americans desire representation by a legislature that truly represents them. I like the Democrats’ idea of demanding “paper trails” at the ballot box, eschewing electronic voting mechanisms that apparently cannot be audited in case of dispute. I suggest a “Paper Trails All Around!” campaign — demand paper trails at the ballot box, AND identification from those who come out to vote. No I.D., no ballot. Make the Democratic Party, into the sound-and-accountable-elections party.

Americans desire accountability from their elected officials. “I was snookered into voting for Iraq” is just a way of avoiding accountability, and everybody knows it. Drop it. Just…drop it. If you haven’t got the brains to avoid being snookered, you haven’t got the brains to serve. Here’s an idea. Make it the position of the Democratic Party, that Saddam was a good start. You’re supposed to be dedicated to making life safer. Obviously, there are a lot of dangerous people on the world stage. Round ‘em up. Stretch some necks. If you must show us how bad the current administration is, show us how it doesn’t move fast enough.

Americans desire a position from the Democratic Party on the United Nations. Something possessing certainty. Not mealy-mouthed. Find something good to say about how the U.N. has handled this whole Iraq business…which I doubt you can do. Or else, kick ‘em out of Manhattan for good. I hear there is a campaign to make the Democrats look like “real men.” Be manly. Make a decision.

Some people are under the impression the Democrats want to punish rich people just for being rich. They think the Democrats are a bunch of rich people themselves, a money-saturated hodge-podge of hypocrites who want a different set of rules for other rich people, and attention-span-disabled drunkards who don’t know or care how many digits are in their net worth, happy so long as there’s enough loot for the next bottle of scotch. Disabuse us of that notion. Stand firm against the death tax. Keep the Bush tax cuts in place — since they’ve worked.

Drop the “For The Children” cliche. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows it’s seasoning used to disguise the taste of something that is thoroughly rotten.

Beyond that, I hesitate to add any more. Two years isn’t that long, after all. You have your work cut out for you; if I round up a hundred people who like Democrats, and ask them what you’ll do about the terrorist threat, nobody’s ready to advance the notion I’ll get back one single solid answer. So change that. Tell us your plan.

I do have one thing Sen. Webb can do right before his rebuttal. He could print out this excellent prepared speech by Jules Crittenden, and in the course of the State of the Union speech, cross out whatever overlaps with what President Bush is saying. Then, in the rebuttal, simply read what’s left over. http://www.pajamasmedia.com/2007/01/the_state_of_the_union_is_a_di.php. Hopefully, President Bush picked it up himself, and will leave little-to-nothing behind for you. If that’s the case, assure us that you’re going to stand with him.

Hey, a guy can dream.

Remember: Bellyaching about the President is SO last year. Sen. Web says “this admini-” — and I’m going to change channels before he gets to the “-stration.” He says “Halli-” and I’m gone before he gets to “-burton.” In saying that, I speak for millions. You know it to be true. Get with it.

Thank you for soliciting my opinion, congratulations on your victory, and best wishes in your efforts to legislate for this great nation.

Morgan K Freeberg

http://www.peekinthewell.net/blog

We’ll just have to see what happens.

Time Machine Lunacy

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

It occurs to me that if one wants to be committed to a looney-bin, without lying about anything or deceiving anyone in any way, a time machine set to the right year will do the trick. The right year, and a carefully-selected tidbit of factual disclosure.

Hello good people of 2006! I’m from the future. Democrats are going to take over Congress, and one of the first things they’ll do is ask for direction from those whackjobs at DailyKOS. You think I kid! I’m as serious as a heart attack.

See what I mean? Off you go, and here’s your straightjacket. And yet…here we are.

Hello good people of 2005! I’m from the future. Democrats are blaming George Bush for hurricanes. Yes. They really, truly are.
Hello 2004! George Bush is thought by many to be the most “hated” President ever, and it looks like he is, even though he’s won more popular votes than any President in history.

It’s just awfully tough for me to believe we would be allowed to keep our freedom as responsible, sane people, after uttering such drivel. It all makes sense now; in fact, in some quarters you’ll be subjected to some form of verbal assault if you don’t go along with it. But we wouldn’t be able to explain it to the people of yesteryear. We’re like the frog sitting in a pot of water, raised to a rolling boil degree-by-degree.

Hello 2003! We have captured Saddam Hussein and he’s been executed; we’re having a lively debate about whether this makes the world any safer. The folks who think it was a bad move, have pretty much won the debate, even though they are never — ever — called upon to say what should have been done differently.
Hello 2002! Evidence has been produced that the people in the U.N. voting against an invasion of Iraq, are on Saddam Hussein’s payroll through the oil-for-food program. To the tune of billions of dollars. What are we doing to bring them to justice? Nothing. Actually, hardly anyone ever talks about it.
Hello 2001! I dunno what to say to you…just hug your kids. And may God be with you.
Hello 2000! If you give Republicans control of all three branches of government, Democrats will try their very best to win you back by…calling you a bunch of fucking goddamned idiots and hoping that will change your mind. Ultimately, it will.
Hello 1999! Don’t worry about President Clinton’s legacy. He’s doing more to try to hide it, than anyone.
Hello 1998! Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California.
Hello 1997! Little kids are going to start performing oral sex on each other because the President said it wasn’t really sex. He’s going to stay just as popular as he is now, if not moreso.
Hello 1996! We’re debating about whether Saddam Hussein was ever a dangerous fucknozzle; the people who insist he was a harmless misunderstood old teddy-bear, are winning.
Hello 1995! We got a “Pelosi Revolution” that’s just like your “Gingrich Revolution.” It involved between a quarter and a third as many House seats changing hands, as what you just went through…but our media tells us it means far, far more. And you wouldn’t believe how differently they’re treating it. It’s working, too.
Hello 1994! Your “co-President” is going to get her husband’s ass handed to him in the upcoming mid-terms with her socialized-medicine scheme. It’s going to make history — and yet, twelve years later, she’s going to start pushing the same product all over again, running for President “in her own right.”
Hello 1993! I’m from the future. Your brand-new President is going to lie to you. About a marital affair. On television. Waggling his finger at the cameras…and I mean that literally. And then he’s going to get caught by his own spunk, spurted all over a blue dress. DNA tests and everything. He won’t be run out of town on a rail, in fact, there will be a cult following devoted to him and how he “got away with it.”
Hello 1992! James Bond is gone for awhile, but eventually he’s going to come back. But while you’re settling into this era of political-correctness and female-friendliness, I can’t begin to describe what you’re about to do to the White House.
Hello 1991! Saddam Hussein’s going to be left in charge. This will be proven to be the wrong decision. The United Nations will make every single mistake about him they possibly can, including — get this — taking billions of dollars in bribes from Saddam himself, to veto enforcement of Resolutions 678 and 687. And yet, I daresay, there is no one in my time who is opposed to the U.N., who isn’t also opposed to it in yours. Not a soul, so far as I know.
Hello 1990! In about five years, it will become highly fashionable for mens’ pants to slip WAY down so their butt cracks stick out. You won’t be able to get away from it, and it will remain highly fashionable for about a dozen years.

These things make some measure of sense to us because we’ve been acclimated to them slowly. They would make sense in no other time.

Movies You Ought Not Spoil

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I think that title is self-explanatory, don’t you? Let’s start with the “asshole” list. If you spoil these for someone who has not yet seen them, you’re an asshole. A complete asshole. Doesn’t matter of the other guy says “it’s okay, it sounds stupid and I don’t think I wanna see it”…that changes nothing. You spoil these, something terrible should happen to you.

1. The Usual Suspects. It has the best don’t-spoil-it ending of them all. Ever.
2. Primal Fear. Close second. The very first comeback vehicle for Mister Gerbil since all that ugly felching gossip came down. One single, beautiful line — five words long — changes everything. What a work of art.
3. The Sixth Sense. I’m sure a lot of people are wondering about it, since a lot of people were talking about it and here it is, eight years later. The anwer is yes. You spoil this, you’re an asshole.
4. Fallen. Was there ever more of a a keystone ending than this, something that, once spoiled, causes everything else to tumble down? I think not. Just keep your mouth shut.
5. Identity. This has been widely criticized as “cheating”; you’ll understand why after you watch it. I think the criticism is somewhat legitimate. How could I not? But hey, a great ending is a great ending; it’s fooled a lot of people, who were bound and determined not to be blindsided. It deserves credit for that.
6. Unbreakable. Yes, it’s just another movie from M. Night, and it’s kind of a “Gotta Make A Boat Payment” movie. But I have to include it here because it really is hard to see coming, and yet after you watch it you’ll be kicking yourself for not catching on sooner. All the clues were there.
7. “Quitters, Inc.” segment from Cat’s Eye. So stupid. So silly. So wonderfully creepy. Shut your mouth.

Next up is the “inconsiderate” list. You’re not necessarily an asshole if you spill these, and the jury’s out even on whether or not you’re inconsiderate. These are somewhat predictable, and if the educated party has signaled disinterest then it’s probably okay.

1. The World Is Not Enough. It’s hardly an original spoiler by any means. But a true James Bond fan would probably mind, quite a lot.
2. Signs. I never got the impression the spoiler was the point of the movie. But I would have to say, if I was looking forward to it I’d be a little pissed if someone spoiled it.
3. Die Another Day. Again, how much can you spoil a James Bond movie? It’s pretty much the same story over and over again. But on the other hand, all Bond movies don’t necessarily have a spoiler. I mean, once you accept that “it turns out the bad guy has a secret weapon that will destroy the world” doesn’t count. So when a Bond movie has another spoiler that’s a bit more clever — and this one does — that would kind of ruin it. And for the uninitiated, yeah, this installment does have a spoiler that’s kind of hard to see coming. Well, a little. Sort of.
4. Mission: Impossible I. Okay, this one is actually pretty cool, I thought. It almost belongs on the “asshole” list. Just keep it to yourself if you’re in doubt, okay? But I do think everyone who was ever interested in seeing it has seen it by now, just about.
5. Terminator III: Rise of the Machines. This might be placed on the “asshole” list too, except the ending only really matters to died-in-the-wool nerds, and if they’re Terminator nerds they are bound to have seen this by now. But, it is a pretty clever twist on how Skynet came to be, and how it ties in to technology that we didn’t even have in 1984 when the first movie came out. Oops, maybe I’ve said too much already.

You should really quit whining if someone spoils these for you…
1. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. When the movie came out, it was a huge spoiler. But come on, it’s been sixteen years.
2. War of the Worlds. Get a grip. They didn’t even change it from the original story. It was kind of a “Boat Payment” movie, anyway. You’re just bitching.
3. The Empire Strikes Back. You really don’t know what happened to Luke’s father? And yet, I know there are some people, somewhere, complaining.
4. Soylent Green. Maybe if you were born after the movie came out, you don’t know what it is.
5. Terminator II: Judgment Day. Was this so hard? You change something, you open a different timeline. Half of all time-travel stories work this way, you really should’ve seen it coming.

And finally, this one and this one were meant as parody against movie spoilers. They can’t be spoiled. The spoiler wasn’t the point. Does this really have to be explained? Maybe not.

I’m sure I forgot something. Too bad nobody reads this blog, so no one’s going to send in any suggestions. Cryin’ shame.

Best Sentence VI

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Cited by fellow Webloggin blogger Bear, at The Absurd Report, and credited to Terry L. Get a load of this:

JImmy Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize has about as much meaning as a Wedding License has for Bill Clinton!

Holtie’s Five Hundredth

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Please join me in extending congratulations to the proprietor of Holtie’s House for his five hundredth post, and best wishes for at least five hundred more. If you’re not stopping by regularly, you’re missing out. One thing: Technically, the site is . It’s not smut; there are boobs. And nipples. The boss wouldn’t like that, ya know. Get your work done and go home first, you slacker.

And stay up late until after the missus has gone to bed, if you must. The jokes are worth it. Like…

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Plato:
For the greater good.
:
Machiavelli:
So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained.
:
Douglas Adams:
Forty-two.
:
Albert Einstein:
Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.
:
Darwin:
It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.
:
Howard Cosell:
It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurence.

Ronald Reagan:
I forget.

Read the rest…

On What We Call “Science” II

Friday, January 19th, 2007

There is a problem with “Science”. It has to do with two definitions for the word, one of which is more reasonable but falling out of favor, the other of which is counterproductive but rapidly achieving complete dominance.

I wonder which word this blog is trying to use?

Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval.

Thus speaketh Dr. Heidi Cullen, climate change expert. Thank you for proving my point, Dr. Cullen. Science is not about what is known, what is unknown, what is theorized, etc…it’s about opinions, and institutions awarding seals-of-approval for having the correct ones.

This becomes abundantly clear when one reviews what set her off:

Capitalweather.com, a website for hard-core weather junkies in the DC area, recently published an interview with a local meteorologist that highlights the unfortunate divide that exists right now between the climate and weather communities. Yup, that divide is global warming. When asked about the science of global warming, the meteorologist responded:

“The subject of global warming definitely makes headlines in the media and is a topic of much debate. I try to read up on the subject to have a better understanding, but it is complex. Often, it is so politicized and those on both sides don’t always appear to have their facts straight. History has taught us that weather patterns are cyclical and although we have noticed a warming pattern in recent time, I don’t know what generalizations can be made from this with the lack of long-term scientific data. That’s all I will say about this.”

Yeesh. “I don’t know what generalizations can be made from this…” and away she goes. For withholding your seal of certainty, you should be defrocked of the seal of approval. Only those who are certain, and say so, can be approved. You want to stay approved — be certain. That’s the job.

Science? Is it? Is it really?

Update 1-20-07:
Dr. Cullen responds to her critics:

I am a scientist. And I’m a skeptic.

AND after more than a century of research — based on healthy skepticism — scientists have learned something very important about our planet. It’s warming up — glaciers are melting, sea level is rising and the weather is changing. The primary explanation for this warming is the carbon dioxide released from — among other things — the burning of fossil fuels.

With that knowledge comes responsibility.

Here at The Weather Channel, we have accepted that responsibility, and see it as our job to give YOU the facts on global warming.

Our position on global warming is supported by the scientific community … including the American Meteorological Society. Their official statement says:

“There is convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents in the atmosphere, have become a major agent of climate change.”

I’ve read all your comments saying I want to silence meteorologists who are skeptical of the science of global warming. That is not true. The point of my post was never to stifle discussion. It was to raise it to a level that doesn’t confuse science and politics. Freedom of scientific expression is essential. [emphasis mine]

Excuse me — this poor s.o.b. says, and I quote…”I don’t know what generalizations can be made from this with the lack of long-term scientific data. That’s all I will say about this.” And Dr. Cullen goes off on him. She wants the AMS credentials withheld. The guy doesn’t have the right position on this to be blessed by the AMS.

Now she says the point was never to stifle discussion.

Am I characterizing her screed unfairly? She doesn’t want to “confuse science and politics.” The object of her criticism lacks confidence in something, and simply comments that he doesn’t have the confidence in it to comment beyond a certain point. It seems well-established that Dr. Cullen has castigated the poor fellow not for what he did say, but for what he did not say. There is not, so far as I can tell, a substantial disagreement about what evidence has been presented; the issue is what to make of the evidence. Heidi Cullen’s entire argument is based on the premise that some kind of line has been crossed — all who express doubt, are political propagandists and should be labeled as such. “True” scientists have their minds made up.

That’s the exact opposite of what “science” used to be.

It’s sad, really. She’s trying to invalidate the perception of critics like me, and just about every sentence she puts down provides greater support for what we’ve said. Through authorities like Dr. Cullen, science is getting into the opinion business.

Throughout most of recorded human history, we’ve had something called “science.” It’s steered us in a beneficial direction, and it’s plunged us deeply into thickets and bunny-trails that have been proven wrong hundreds of years later. The pattern that emerges, is that it’s had an illuminating effect on things when it sticks to the facts, and it’s sent us off in the wrong direction when it’s done what Dr. Cullen wants it to do.

The lesson seems to be that if you want to know how things work, you’re only going to make sound progress in figuring this out if you keep in mind what is certain and what is not. In other words, know what it is you don’t know. Based on everything she’s written about this, Heidi Cullen hasn’t impressed me as doing as good a job at this, as those placed under her criticism.

Now, That’s What I Call Focused

Friday, January 19th, 2007

A little bit too focused.

I would call the situation somewhat grim. President Bush says we need to deploy more troops to Iraq, and that the success of the mission depends on it. A lot of people are saying this isn’t going to do the trick. There is some powerful evidence that both are correct, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if both are correct, something bad is about to happen.

Too focusedAnd via Boortz, we learn that Miss Perky Perky had some comments about her press gathering. It makes me wonder how many people completely depend on her to find out what’s going on in the world, whether they realize it or not; and among those who do, what all they’re missing.

Last Wednesday, President Bush gave his address to the country about “the new way forward” for Iraq, and lots of journalists—including me, of course—were in Washington to cover it. But before the Big Speech, there was the little-known Big Meeting.
:
As I was looking at my colleagues around the room—Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, Wolf Blitzer, and Brit Hume—I couldn’t help but notice, despite how far we’ve come, that I was still the only woman there. Well, there was some female support staff near the door. But of the people at the table, the “principals” in the meeting, I was the only one wearing a skirt. Everyone was gracious, though the jocular atmosphere was palpable.

The feminist movement that began in the 1970’s helped women make tremendous strides—but there still haven’t been enough great leaps for womankind. Fifty-one percent of America is female, but women make up only about sixteen percent of Congress—which, as the Washington Monthly recently pointed out, is better than it’s ever been…but still not as good as parliaments in Rwanda (forty-nine percent women) or Sweden (forty-seven percent women). Only nine Fortune 500 companies have women as CEO’s.

That meeting was a reality check for me—and not just about Iraq. It was a reminder that all of us still have an obligation to ask: Don’t more women deserve a place at the table too? [emphasis mine]

Okay, one…at…a…time:
All of us have an obligation to ask — all of whom, exactly? People who vote for the President? Or people who hire and promote news executives? It would seem the second of those is more germane to the complaint, but it’s the first one that is more compatible with a sweeping pronouncement of “all of us.” Does Ms. Couric really mean to imply that by voting in a guy she doesn’t like, we “all” gave some kind of license for the gals to be crowded out away from “the table”?

Obligation? To who? What is the worst that happens if we don’t ask this? The Perkolator will frown upon us disapprovingly, with her lower lip stuck out? What’s the best that happens if we do ask? As Katie points out, we already started asking this 40 years ago. We don’t see starship captains on TV anymore whacking a “Yeoman” on her miniskirted ass when she brings him 23rd-century coffee. And if you’re in a position to hire or promote one candidate over another, and you exclude someone just because she doesn’t have a penis, all it takes is for someone to prove it and your career is at an end.

From that position, where exactly are we supposed to go?

Sixteen out of a hundred senators, and Katie’s unhappy. It’s clear we can only make her happy by means of a seventeenth senator…and some more and some more. I’m going to go way out on a limb here: If I get to pick how these new lady senators do their voting, and it seems I should be able to do this because Couric doesn’t even begin to address the issue — I will be much, much happier with the 35 new female senators than Couric herself. So her statement of what, exactly, has cheesed her off here, is a bit imprecise.

We’ve all done imprecise jobs of articulating what’s causing us distress. What’s remarkable is that just speaking for myself, if I’m noticing something’s still broken after forty years of fixing stuff, I’m going to put lots, and lots, and lots of effort into noticing just where we might have gone wrong. I might not succeed. But I’ll put in the effort. If we go forty-five or fifty years without fixing it, I’ll put in even more effort next time.

Couric doesn’t even try. Skirts are missing at the table. No fair. Whine whine whine.

And then. What are we to do about this, exactly? Why the silence on this aspect of it…when it ought to be the whole point, if the whining is worth doing in the first place? I see one of the commentors, “joycewest,” took the time and energy to research Rwanda’s situation in Parliament. One third of it must be female by law. Huh. The Perkolator went out of her way to cite Rwanda; I wonder how many other countries with legislative chambers she passed over to get to that one. Does she want a similar quota here? She says we have “an obligation to ask” something and she must realize, simply asking it is obviously not going to solve anything, especially since we have already been asking it.

Speaking of the “obligation”…what about choice? Aren’t we suffering a little bit of scope creep here, if the feminist movement was supposed to be about womens’ choice? Maybe, just maybe, Katie’s the only lady in the room because she’s one out of just a few who would make the decision to be there in the first place. Doesn’t she approve of the choices other women might have made, not to be there?

Let’s face it, it’s at least possible some women would make decisions different from the decisions Katie would make if she were they. It is possible…not only that, but among all the artificial means of keeping “skirts” away from the table, that’s the only one that can take place in this country that is legal.

Finally, I see this is an exercise in CALWWNTY. Does Katie Couric really intend to sound the call for yet-another march in the womens’ movement, now entering the fifth decade of progressive feminism? Is this really something she herself would find inspiring, if someone else was blowing the bugle and bellowing those magic, insulting words…Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet?

Really?

As Tom Cruise might say…Katie, Katie, Katie, you’re glib. We’ve opened up choices for career-minded women. We’ve outlawed discrimination against them, and we’ve even rearranged our cultural norms and taboos. Most remarkable of all, our society has made the new choice for women about whether to work a career, or stay home, into a real choice. And from the ladies who’ve made decisions differently than the one you made for yourself — you have profited handsomely. Come to think of it, among the folks who define some level of personal income as “obscene,” I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t qualify you yourself for that; provided, of course, they were only told what you make, and not who you are.

Well hey, some of us understand that when you send a woman into an important meeting like that, there are women who will pick up on the big stuff. There are these Islamomaniacs, you see? They’d just as soon stone you to death for letting an inch or two of tantalizing knee show above those fashionable tall boots of yours during the morning news show — and by the way, they want to kill Americans. They will go out of their way to do it. Will die to do it. As many Americans as possible. Some of us understand there are women who will keep track of the big picture. Some of us realize there are women who will maintain this sense of perspective, at least as well as any man.

But if you want to remind us that there are exceptions, well go ahead. Twist my arm. But I fail to see how that advances the womens’ movement any further.

The Other Bond 17

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Just generally interesting stuff. What would have happened if Goldeneye had been made with Timothy Dalton returning to play James Bond a third time? Plot overview, car, devices, bad guys all here. Yakuza gangsters. The Aston-Martin DB5 returning for “one last ride.” Motorcycle with front-mounted missile launcher. Some asshole named “Nigel” who wants to shut down the double-oh section for good. What more could you want?

Another Thing I Don’t Get

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Maybe I should add this to the list. President Bush…I’m just finishing up six years of being told, and I mean non-stop, one of the many complaints against him is that not only does he make bad decisions, but he lacks the humility to acknowledge that he made a bad decision.

Hey, I’ve had bosses like that. I can see it.

And now the talking point is switched around, because he has changed course. Any flattering comments in this story? Anything about oh, joy, we’ve had this glaring problem in the Oval Office and now things are starting to improve? Anything about how we should count our blessings because, hey, he’s repentant, but learning?

Ha ha, ho ho. You should live so long.

The Bush administration said yesterday that it has agreed to disband a controversial warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, replacing it with a new effort that will be overseen by the secret court that governs clandestine spying in the United States.

The change — revealed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee — marks an abrupt reversal by the administration, which for more than a year has aggressively defended the legality of the NSA surveillance program and disputed court authority to oversee it. [emphasis mine]

He sucks as a President, because he never changes his mind. He sucks as a President, because he abruptly reverses things.

Which is it? On what planet could it possibly be both?

Priorities

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Alternative StrategyI’m really glad they got their plan for victory in Iraq defined to everybody’s understanding, eliminating any & all uncertainty and ambiguity…before moving on to this. Hey, well done folks.

Hat tip to Texas Scrbbler for the image, credit to Cox and Forkum.

I continue to be amazed and befuddled that we tolerate this. We’re split about whether the New Way Forward is a groovy idea or not…okay, I can certainly understand that. Here’s the thing: I don’t see anyone saying we can withdraw, and expect everything to work out in our favor over there. I don’t see a single soul stepping up to the plate and saying that. I see left-wing lunatics and Move-On-Dot-Org people and Hollywood halfwits as far as the eye can see…people who would like me to support Democrats, want me to do it so bad, they’d piss rusty nails to make it happen. But nobody’s willing to form the syllables necessary to say the words, “we can pull out and bring everybody home, and it’ll ALL WORK OUT.” Not a peep about that.

So they want us to change the subject. And, on the whole, we let them decide that for us.

Eh…I’m not getting it. If you have an I.Q. equal to or greater than what’s possessed by that tub of cottage cheese you forgot in the fridge last month, you should be able to see — this is something that requires a real decision. Do, or do not…but do what you think will lead to a good outcome. Or a non-bad outcome. A second-grader should be able to grasp this.

So Republicans point out that Democrats haven’t come up with a plan…and this is excused, ipso facto, as a right-wing talking point. Eh, it’s not a talking point. There’s real things at stake here, and that’s not gonna change even if we pull every single soldier home. It’s inexcusable to let a bunch of politicians build up momentum for their own team, and start enacting agendas to — let’s cut the bullshit, okay? — CHANGE THE SUBJECT. And never once put any leverage behind their own idea for solving the problem.

It’s not their fault, folks. It’s ours.