Buttle's World

30 September, 2009

The Cap and Trade Mystery

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 8:23

Senator John Kerry recently said, “I don’t know what ‘cap and trade’ means. I don’t think the average American does.”

As a public service, Buttle’s World will translate “cap and trade” into English:

Massive energy tax.

You’re welcome, Senator. Good luck getting that cat back into the bag.

29 September, 2009

Polanski

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 10:26

I have read both the original Robert Towne draft of Chinatown and Polanski’s rewrite. That should go down as one of the great rewrites in movie history. It was the work of an artistic genius, and produced one of the most iconic and well-crafted movies ever to come out of Hollywood. Nothing can take that accomplishment away from him.

But Polanski should be arrested, tried, and spend the rest of his miserable life in jail because he raped a child.

What’s The Harm?

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 7:15

“What’s the harm in believing…?”

Ever heard that one?

The harm can actually be deadly.

A problem skeptics face is that, emotionally, anecdotes trump statistics. Lack of critical thinking skills is why a single sob story can beat a mountain of evidence.

I’ve added whatstheharm.net to the Honor Roll of links there on the right because they understand this problem. Not only do they present just how many people are killed and injured due to fallacious beliefs, but they put a human face on the toll. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Rebecca Watson for mentioning it on last week’s edition of my favorite podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.

Update (and bumped):

David Gorski has some case histories of the price of anti-vaccine nuttery. It’s also worth noting that Science Based Medicine is back, running on a new and improved server.

All this biomedical woo comes at a cost. For instance, in one message Mary listed the monthly cost: $2,800 to $3,500 for IVIG, plus $500 for supplements and chelation therapy. But that’s just money. It’s always possible to get more money, even after pouring it down the rathole of quackery. What is not possible to take back the discomfort, fear, and pain that Saul was forced to endure for no potential benefit. Indeed, Mary even appears at certain points to have recognized this:

Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist and my poor kid is my guinea pig.

28 September, 2009

Putting Faith in its Place

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 16:57

Another great video from Qualia Soup.

Funny, but at the conclusion I had a suspicion that more Christians would be open to that last challenge than Muslims. Or at least fewer Christians would be inclined to saw someone’s head off over it. At any rate, it’s great food for thought.

25 September, 2009

“This isn’t a football game.”

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 18:19

I hope I live long enough to again see a U. S. President who is actually on our side. The one we have clearly isn’t.

Reporter: What kind of sanctions, at all, would have bite with Iran?

Obama: This isn’t a football game, I’m not interested in victory, but solving the problem. . . . My expectation is that we’re going to explore with our allies . . . a wide range of options . . . should Iran decline to engage in ways that are responsible. (emphasis added)

No, you’re right, Dear Leader. It isn’t a football game. It’s a war, Mr. President. You are the commander in chief. Victory is your frakking job. You are hopelessly naive, irresponsibly dishonest, incandescently stupid, or some combination of the three if the words “I’m not interested in victory” actually passed your lips.

I swear. This guy makes Neville Chamberlain look like Douglas MacArthur.

Doodle Do!

Filed under: Posts — Tags: — clgood @ 9:32

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 7:57

Michael Yon’s dispatch on his fight with the British Ministry of Defense can be summed up as: British soldiers are great. British leaders, not so much.

I had a specific incident with this British Media Ops Major.

The Major and I were driving in Camp Bastion around midday when it was very hot.  A British soldier ran by wearing a rucksack. He was drenched in sweat under the blazing, dusty desert.  I smiled because it’s great to see so many soldiers who work and train hard. Yet the Major cut fun at the soldier, saying he was dumb to be running in that heat.  I nearly growled at the Major, but instead asked if he ever goes into combat.  The answer was no. And, in fact, the Major does not leave the safety of Camp Bastion.

That a military officer would share a foul word about a combat soldier who was prepping for battle was offensive.  Especially an officer who lives in an air-conditioned tent with a refrigerator stocked with chilled soft drinks.  Just outside his tent are nice hot and cold showers.  Five minutes away is a little Pizza Hut trailer, a coffee shop, stores, and a cookhouse.

This very Major had earned a foul reputation among his own kind for spending too much time on his Facebook page. I personally saw him being gratuitously rude to correspondents.  Some correspondents—all were British—complained to me that when they wanted to interview senior British officers, they were told by this Major to submit written questions.  The Major said they would receive videotaped answers that they could edit as if they were talking with the interviewee.  (Presumably, senior British officers are avoiding the tough questions, such as, “So, when do you plan to send enough helicopters?”)

Child Abuse

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 6:10

Isn’t it comforting to know that your child is likely under the sway of Obamabots all day at school?

Beyond creepy. And, if you’re an Obamabot who sees nothing wrong here, just ask yourself how you’d feel if your kids were being taught a chant in praise of Dubya.

I’d bet folding money that these kids don’t score very well on reading, writing, and math.

24 September, 2009

Europe, Explained

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 10:12

Lawfare

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 9:00

Michael Yon emailed a link to an amicus brief in Maqaleh v. Gates.

How sad is it that we have so many clueless and traitorous lawmakers and judges that our soldiers have to open a second front at the bench?

The term useful idiot doesn’t begin to cover it.

23 September, 2009

Will ACORN Shoot Itself in the Foot?

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 15:28

One lawyer thinks maybe yes. He lays out five reasons why, then summarizes:

In short, Learned Hand once said that he feared a lawsuit more than death or taxes. With good lawyering from the defendants (which I’m sure their (sic) going to get), ACORN is about to find out what Hand meant. ACORN has very little to gain and a lot to lose.

Update:

This lawyer points out that the open conference room door, plus the presence of the ACORN droid’s pen and paper, means the Maryland statute wasn’t violated in any case and says the sute should be “summarily dismissed and ACORN should cease its dishonorable recrimination.”

Yeah, but… Not before discovery, please!

I Think This Explains The Goofy Innaugural Poem

Filed under: Posts — Tags: — clgood @ 14:00

Even allowing as how He was only nineteen when He wrote this, it probably explains this bit of comedy.

All The Single Babies

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 9:16

Mirror Neurons at work.

22 September, 2009

The Messiah’s Most Astonishing Accomplishment

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 15:02

The One has achieved something I didn’t anticipate. He has not only made me miss Bill Clinton, but he’s starting to make me nostalgic for the Nasty Little Man.

It’s a given that the United Nations is a systemically-corrupt enemy of freedom. When our own president sides with the thugs over the rule of law it just rubs salt in the wound.

[D]on’t expect President Obama to stand up for justice and the rule of law. As NR’s Jay Nordlinger recently pointed out, Obama has decided to revoke the visa of Honduran president Roberto Micheletti, preventing his entry into the United States. Obama apparently feels more comfortable sharing a cappuccino in the U.N. Delegates Lounge with a deposed Chávez acolyte than with its authentic, constitutionally legitimate president.

I am genuinely ashamed of the actions of our president. Too bad He has no sense of shame.

Post Reporters Deny Using Questionable Tactics to Entrap Nixon

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 13:29

Can you imagine this headline running in any paper, except the Washington Post, in 1972?

The proposition seemed outlandish. Two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, would accept information from a secret source who would only be known as “Deep Throat.” This information would be so damaging to president of the United States, it would unleash a scandal that would shake the foundations of the nation’s government to its core.

Woodward and Bernstein deny being beholden to left-wing interests, but admit taking advice in their reporting from left-wing editor Ben Bradlee. They insist that no left-wing organization bankrolled their reporting efforts.

Well, here’s what the WaPo wrote on Friday:

O’Keefe insists that he and Giles’s work was done independently and rejects liberal suggestions that the videos were bankrolled by conservative organizations. He does, however, acknowledge receiving help and advice from a conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur.

20 September, 2009

I Know What We Need!

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 21:02

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for adding this phrase to the lexicon.

Update:

To be clear, Goldberg is the one who pinned the phrase on The One. It was Saturday Night Live, and Christopher Walken, who added it to the lexicon. My thanks to a loyal reader for the link and the reminder.

The Devil Wears Pravda

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 20:54

I suppose this would be news only to people too young to remember Pravda, or to people who still get their “news” from “newspapers”.

It has only gone way downhill since into Soviet-era Pravda territory. The MSM’s modus operandi today is identical, and I don’t say that lightly. But having listened to Radio Moscow broadcasts on ham radio for years during the Cold War era, combined with some Naval Intelligence training and research into the subject, I deconstructed the Soviets’ propaganda MO down to five simple canons. All five are in direct violation of every principle of objective and unbiased journalism there is:
1. Always make the State and its political leadership appear infallible.
2. Promote the State’s ideology and official policies wherever possible.
2. Demonize political adversaries and dissidents as enemies of the State.
4. Suppress news that reflects poorly on the State or its leadership.
5. If bad news cannot be suppressed, attack and discredit the source.

Stupid, Dishonest, or Both?

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 7:00

In case you were on the fence about shunning WorldNutDaily and relegating it to the trash heap of kooky ideas where it belongs, this ought to seal the deal.

Bob Unruh has an article about an edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species which claims it is really an anti-evolution book. How? Well, this super genius wrote his own introductory chapter saying so.

In his book, he describes the love-hate relationship he has with atheists: They hate him, but he loves them, he says.

Atheists, Comfort says, are disturbed when he simply and elegantly states exactly what they believe – that nothing created everything, which is a scientific impossibility – and in so doing expose the common error that atheists are committed to logical thinking.

The book is a thought-provoking glimpse into Comfort’s world – an ongoing dialogue with professed atheists.

Is this really the guy who should lecture on “logical thinking”?

Earth to Dimwit: It was the Almighty Banana Plantation Owners who made the banana that way. Which just goes to show: You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

Let’s see how many fallacies and distortions we can find in that one, short WorldNutDaily piece:

Right off the bat he confuses atheism with the recognition that evolution is a reality. This false dichotomy permeates the whole article, and will come as quite a shock to the Pope. Compartmentalization is an amazing thing, and a lot of religious folks, even Christians, not only recognize evolution as the fact that it is, but also will tell you the earth is not flat.

Comfort claims that there are “huge holes” in evolutionary theory. Well, at last count, the number of “holes” is zero. Although even that terminology is not very scientific. Our picture of just how evolution works keeps getting better, so gaps in our knowledge exist, of course. If science knew everything it would stop. But there is no longer any more doubt of evolution than there is of a round earth.

His conversation with a hypothetical atheist is at once a straw man argument and a false dichotomy.

“Darwin wasn’t anti-God at all. In his famous book ‘Origin of Species’ Darwin refers to creation as the ‘works of God’ and calls Him the ‘Creator’ an amazing seven times,” Comfort said.

There’s that false dichotomy again. Perhaps he’s shocked to learn that Darwin was, at least for part of his life, religious. Maybe that’s because Comfort hadn’t bothered to actually read Darwin until now. One thing Darwin was that Comfort is not, though, is honest. Should Comfort ever attempt this conversation with a flesh and blood atheist with an IQ somewhere north of room temperature the result will be quite different.

This is just plain weird:

Comfort cited the “rave reviews”  his special edition already is attracting.

“It’s like a book with multiple personality disorder – two parts that absolutely hate each other; an intro that is the inane product of one of the most stupid minds of our century, and a science text that is the product of one of the greatest minds of the author’s century,” wrote PZ Myers, who teaches at the University of Minnesota at Morris.

Does Comfort think that Meyers’ stinging rebuke is a badge of honor, or is he so utterly clueless that he thinks this is a positive review? (Watch that banana video again before you answer.)

“According to evolutionist Steven Jones, a renowned British geneticist, ‘We also share about 50 percent of our DNA with bananas, and that doesn’t make us half bananas,” says Comfort.

Leave it to a complete moron to take pro-evolution data and claim it disproves evolution. The reason for so much common DNA is common ancestry. It takes only a minuscule percentage difference in DNA to be in an entirely different species. Comfort should consult a bonobo on that point.

Mr. Comfort, should he ever be honest and brave enough to look at the data, will be shocked to learn that that the DNA evidence for evolution is so complete and overwhelming that it would be considered a true and tested theory even if we had not found a single fossil, ever.

Stick a fork in that banana, dude. The game is over. And you are a shameful, silly man.

Update (and bumped):

They’re planning on handing out mangled editions of Darwin’s book on university campuses. I think Dawkins’ suggestion of getting copies and ripping out the 50 pages of idiocy is a recipe for disaster. That would play right into the creationists’ false cry of “censorship”. I can just hear the cries of “what are the atheists afraid of?”

Perhaps a better idea would be to stamp the first page with “Please try not to laugh while reading this introduction, but please compare it to what Darwin actually wrote.”

I watched their offensive little video. It answered the question at the top of this post, and the answer is dishonest.

What I haven’t been able to determine is if this slimy Comfort fellow has tampered with Darwin’s text itself, nor which edition of his book he started with. Anybody know?

18 September, 2009

One Summer in San Francisco

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 17:32

Higher res version available here.

Fishy Study OTD

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 9:38

This fMRI study is flipping brilliant.

The subject was presented with a sequence of photos of people in various situations and asked to concentrate on their emotional states. The researchers found activations of certain brain regions corresponding to the emotional content of the images.

The subject was an Atlantic Salmon.

A dead Atlantic Salmon.

Here, suitable for framing, is a poster version of the study.

17 September, 2009

Yes, It’s Low Brow

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 22:09

It’s funny. So sue me.

Poor Winston and Sylvia.

Nasty Little Man: Kettle

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 16:36

Calling the pot… well, you know.

16 September, 2009

Kanye Hear Me?

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 12:55

In his highly successful bid to be named Biggest Jerk in Media, I’m told that Kanye West has even taken to interrupting web sites.

I find that hard to believe.

Depressing Poll OTD

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 9:52

I’m not a big believer in polls, especially political ones. But you could add in a fudge factor the size of Alaska to this one and it would still mean that a frightening percentage of my fellow Americans are barking mad.

We’ve been uncovering a remarkable level of anger toward Barack Obama in a lot of our recent polling so for New Jersey we decided to go a step further in determining how extreme some people’s feelings are about the President and asked respondents if they think he is the Anti-Christ.

8% said yes. 13% aren’t sure. Among Republicans 14% said yes and 15% weren’t sure.

Pretty eye popping numbers. The extent to which some people already hate Obama is amazing. We’ll test that question nationally this weekend.

The extremism in New Jersey isn’t limited to the right though. 19% of voters in the state, including 32% of Democrats, think that George W. Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11.

Beyond that 21% of respondents, including 33% of Republicans, express the belief that Obama was not born in the United States.

Combine the birthers and the truthers and you’ve got 37% of the electorate. And the 3% of voters who really need to get their heads checked are the ones who are both birthers and truthers.

Idiocy knows no ideology: Note that a similar percentage of Republicans and Democrats believe their favorite nutcase theory. This shows why teaching critical thinking skills is vitally important. Sadly, the ignorance factories known as public schools will never teach it, because it would put them out of business within a generation.

Update:

On further reflection. I am completely throwing out the “AntiChrist” question.

If I had taken this poll and gotten that question I might have answered yes just as a joke or as a comment on just how stupid the question was. No Liberal was going to say yes because they worship this clown. This no doubt taints the entire results, and is yet another reason I don’t trust polls. But, like I said, even if they were off by a factor of 3 or 4 that’s still leaves an awful lot of morons out there. On both sides of the aisle.

13 September, 2009

The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 7:40

If you measure “good” in terms of life, health and freedom, as I do, then Norman Borlaug is arguably the greatest who ever lived. He saved more lives than anyone else in history. He has just died at 95, but will go on saving lives.

More than 30 years ago, Borlaug wrote, “One of the greatest threats to mankind today is that the world may be choked by an explosively pervading but well camouflaged bureaucracy.” As REASON’s interview with him shows, he still believes that environmental activists and their allies in international agencies are a threat to progress on global food security. Barring such interference, he is confident that agricultural research, including biotechnology, will be able to boost crop production to meet the demand for food in a world of 8 billion or so, the projected population in 2025.

How can it be that hardly anybody knows who he was? Glenn Reynolds opines that it doesn’t fit the narrative.

Update:

David Price emails with his personal Borlaug story.

Kudan

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 7:14

11 September, 2009

Jack Webb Schools The One

Filed under: Posts — Tags: — clgood @ 17:14

9 September, 2009

Steel Fuses

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 16:48

This is very exciting engineering news: Buildings that can not only survive an earthquake, but return to “true and plumb” with damage confined to a few easily replaceable parts.

“What is unique about these frames is that, unlike conventional systems, they actually rock off their foundation under large earthquakes,” Deierlein said.

The rocking frames are steel braced-frames, the columns of which are free to rock up and down within steel “shoes” secured at their base. To control the rocking and return the frame to vertical when the shaking stops, steel tendons run down the center of the frame from top to bottom. These tendons are made of high-strength steel cable strands twisted together and designed to remain elastic during shaking. When shaking is over, they rebound to their normal length, pulling the building back into proper alignment.

At the bottom of the frame sit steel “fuses” designed keep the rest of the building from sustaining damage.

Bangarang

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 8:12

Start with a sow’s ear of a movie and make a musical silk purse.

Update:

Ahh, well. Apparently Sony didn’t see it as fair use, and you missed it.

8 September, 2009

The Evolution of Darwin’s Book

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 21:52

This is a really impressive project. People who write software will get the idea right away. For those of us who don’t, it’s a way of looking at the revisions in the editions of On the Origin of Species.

We often think of scientific ideas, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, as fixed notions that are accepted as finished. In fact, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species evolved over the course of several editions he wrote, edited, and updated during his lifetime. The first English edition was approximately 150,000 words and the sixth is a much larger 190,000 words. In the changes are refinements and shifts in ideas — whether increasing the weight of a statement, adding details, or even a change in the idea itself.

Here, in animated, graphical form is the difference between science and dogma: science corrects itself and expands. Dogma is, well, dogmatic.

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