American Elephants


Wednesday Stack of Stuff by American Elephant

Part of the problem with blogging is that there are so many interesting storied to write about, and nowhere near enough time to write about them all. Here’s just some of the stories catching my attention:

How will Obama block it? — “New drilling method opens vast oil fields in US”

Heh heh — AOL Buys HuffPo, stock takes $315 million dive

Jennifer Rubin“Obamacare Support Melting Away”

iBubble? —  “Apple is Most Valuable Company on Earth: Analysts”

First GOP Senate pick up?“Webb won’t seek re-election”

Gallup — Poll: Obama 68% disapproval on Defecit

Progressive Control Freaks  still controlling — Boston to ban smoking in parks?

Most corrupt administration ever #1 – Obama fired another investigator for doing his job.

Most corrupt administration ever #2 — Emanuel/Blagojevich phone calls conveniently go missing

NASA shock — New 3D photographs reveal Sun looks remarkably the same from all sides



To Boldly Go Where NASA Has Never Gone Before And Perform Strange New Tasks. by The Elephant's Child

NASA Chief Charles Bolden, an impressive former Marine Corps major general and astronaut, recently described the mission at the space agency that was entrusted to him by President Obama.  And it has quickly become a major news story for obvious reasons.  General Bolden said on al-Jazeera:

When I became the NASA administrator,[the President] charged me with three things: One,  he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

This is our SPACE Agency. Created to let us go to the moon, and to put America into space.    As Victor Davis Hanson said: “The real problem with using NASA as an arm of the State Department’s current politically correct agenda is that it is supposed to have other things to do.”

Charles Krauthammer said “This is a new height in fatuousness.  NASA was established to get America into space and keep us there.  The idea of “the feel-good at their past scientific achievements” — it’s the worst combination of group-therapy psychobabble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy.”

Elliott Abrams,  senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested that “A more serious task might be to make them feel terrible about the present level of education in Muslim lands, not least for women and girls, in the hope that we could spur them to reform and improvement….The space program is being transformed into a tool of Obama foreign policy, which views American national greatness as an anachronism.”

Daniel Pipes added:  “It is inordinately patronizing for Americans to make Muslims “feel good” about their medieval contributions to science. This will lead to more resentment than gratitude.  Muslims at present do lag in the sciences and the way to fix this is not condescension from NASA but some deep Muslim introspection. Put differently, accomplished scientists of Muslim origin — including NASA’s Farouk El-Baz, who is of Egyptian origins — do exist. The problem lies in societies, and include everything from insufficient resources to poor education to the ravages of Islamism.”

And:  “Just as soldiers are meant to fight, not carry out social programs, so scientists must work to expand the frontiers of knowledge, not to make select people “feel good.”

That pretty much covers it, doesn’t it?



Panics, Crazes, Manias and Fads. by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Liberalism | Tags: , , ,

plumes

The Wall Street Journal today reviewed a new book called Plumes about the fashion craze for ostrich feathers from roughly 1905 to 1914. Ostrich plumes adorned women’s hats, capes, gowns, gloves, shoes and more and it was thought (as in all crazes) that it would last forever.

The famous Tulip mania of 1634 didn’t last so long, but speculation reached dizzying heights.  One collector paid 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, 12 sheep, a bed and a suit of clothes for a single Viceroy tulip bulb.

The demand for beaver hats in England led to our mountain men braving the dangers of the Rockies in the search for fur. The desire for warm beaver hats coincided with the Little Ice Age.  The greatest fur trading company received its charter in1670, just three years before there was a record of ice three feet thick on the Thames River in London.

There are little crazes too, that come and go fairly quickly. Do you remember pet rocks?  Or mood rings? Most of us have only to look back at our high school yearbooks to cringe and remember a few more fads.

Back in the 70s there was a fear that we were entering another ice age for the planet had cooled slightly.

On Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring world temperatures, and is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr. James Hansen, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was astonishing.  It had snowed in Boise.  On the day that they were debating climate-change legislation in London, it snowed.  China reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. NOAA had registered 115 lowest-ever temperatures in the US.

These temperature records are used by scientists all over the world in their work.  What happened?  The freak figures were not based on October readings at all, they had just repeated the figures from the previous month.  When that was promptly caught, GISS began hastily revising its figures, and claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic. Then they said they did not have the resources to maintain proper quality control over their incoming data.

Dr. Hansen set the whole “global warming” scare going in 1988 with his summer testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore.  In 2007, he was forced to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Professor Bob Carter points out in Quadrant that:

Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work.

The global warming scare is slowly coming apart. The science reality is negating the virtual reality, and the public is becoming dubious.

Fads, crazes and manias come and go. Some last far longer than they should and do far more damage because politicians get involved.

This particular craze has consumed vast funds, and promises to consume far, far more.



The sun, the sun. The spots are back. by The Elephant's Child

After a little over two years of a quiet sun and few solar flares, a new-cycle sunspot group has emerged on Halloween, and been seen over a four-day period in early November.

This is good news.  Warmer is actually better than colder.  People are much more susceptible to suffering from cold weather than from heat. Here is the report with moving pictures too.



Did you turn your lights off? Why? by The Elephant's Child

Last night at the appointed hour (8:00 pm local time, “Global Hour” — see “The NUPs Strike Again!” below) I turned on all the lights and looked out the window. I was appalled. The neighbors just below had their porch lights on, but across the valley it was a sea of darkness. Surely I couldn’t be living in such a sea of greenies. Then I realized that I wasn’t. It was snowing, and I couldn’t see across the valley.

The NUPs (naive urban people) had thought to make some important environmental point by turning off the world’s lights for one hour. I am unsure of what the point was. World Jump Day‘s purpose was a little clearer –if everyone in the world jumped at the same time, it would alter the orbit of the earth slightly and improve something or other. I’m not much on candlelight vigils or marches with big puppets either. I suspect that the time involved could be better spent reading up on the problem that is of such concern.

The problem is that if the concern is “global warming” or “global cooling” or even the revised formulation “climate change”, the implication is that there is some right temperature from which variation is a worrisome thing. Which is clearly nonsense. I’m personally in favor of something ranging from 70° to 78°, but I have skiers in the family.

It is worth noting that true believers, such as Al Gore, will not tolerate disagreement. In a preview clip from his coming appearance on 60Minutes this week, he refers to climate skeptics as “few” and “flat-earth people”. And this is typical. Just mention NASA’s Aqua satellite and note the blank stares or rude language that ensues. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the splendid The Skeptical Environmentalist, has been the recipient of attacks almost as violent as those visited upon the publication of the Danish cartoons. Lomborg, a professor of statistics, merely took official government statistics and explained clearly what they indicated.

It is very worth following up on the previous link, and reading the whole thing. This paragraph is especially worth remembering:

Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring.



Life on Saturn Moon? by American Elephant
February 8, 2008, 5:06 am
Filed under: Science/Technology | Tags: ,

Saturn's Ice Moon, Enceladus

Nothing better to put a passing political hullabaloo back in proper perspective than contemplating the vastness of the Universe. So much we don’t know, even right in our own backyard:

PARIS (AFP) – Astrophysicists in Germany say they can add evidence to bolster theories that water, one of the precious ingredients for life, exists on the Saturnian moon Enceladus.

A tiny satellite measuring just 504 kilometres (315 miles) across, Enceladus has become one of the most fiercely debated objects in the Solar System, thanks to close-up pictures taken by the US probe Cassini.

Enceladus has a brilliant white shell of ice that is untouched except for some strange-looking grooves and impacts from space rocks.

Cassini revealed plumes of water vapour that gush from surface stripes near its south pole, shooting crystal jets upwards for hundreds of kilometres (miles) into space. [read more




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