Archive for June, 2009

A recurring topic that I have brought up on CAI before regards global warming (see here, and here) and the way that it is presented in the media and culture.  I most often feel that to even suggest a debate is looked upon as the same as holocaust denial.  It’s a frustrating and pointless response, that does nothing to validate the underlying concern.  And stories like this one from Powerline and also Newsbusters, do even more damage to the idea that this is in fact a phenomenon of human cause and that we need to take the drastic steps we are considering.  The Powerline article focuses on this doozy:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has obtained an EPA study of the “endangerment” to human well-being ostensibly caused by carbon dioxide emissions, together with a set of EPA emails indicating that the study, which concludes that carbon dioxide is not a significant cause of climate change, was suppressed by the EPA for political reasons.

That doesn’t seem honest, especially since it was the EPA that requested the report to validate their proposal.  Another example of this seeming more political then scientific can be found with writers such as Paul Krugman (admittedly not a scientist).  As he says in his latest New York Times op-ed:

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

And what is the research?

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Wait, that’s the research you point to… same old descriptors?  Where is the data, where is the title of the new peer-reviewed paper we should be reading? To his credit he does finally mention some statistics:

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But who are these researchers?  What about this M.I.T. scientist who disagrees?

Granted, most of us are not scientists and so we need other to try and distill their research into understandable bits for us, but I would be much more open to this possibility if it didn’t seem to come across so much as propaganda.  So I continue to remain skeptical, and will for the foreseeable future until it appears there is more quality answers to the questions that are brought up concerning mans part in our planets changes.

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I was reading an article in the Washington Post entitled, A First Lady Who Demands Substance, about Michelle Obama and how she is trying to craft a more important role for herself within the White House.  And while that premise alone is a bit disturbing (nobody elected Michelle Obama) it was a throw away phrase by the writer that stood out to me.  Lois Romano wrote:

Although Obama’s job-approval ratings have soared, the first lady — a Harvard-educated lawyer — wasn’t satisfied with coasting. She is hiring a full-time speechwriter and has instructed her staff to think “strategically” so that every event has a purpose and a message. She doesn’t want to simply go to events and hug struggling military families, she said; she wants to show progress.

Did you catch it, like I did?

Although Obama’s job-approval ratings have soared…

Since this did not sound remotely like what I have been reading anywhere, I thought I would check it out.  I went to Real Clear Politics to check their poll average, as well as to find the individual poll data.

The RCP average shows only slight decline in the cumulative total from about 65% to 60%, but the disapproval index moved from 20% to nearly 35%.  The individual poll data follows the same structure but with differing levels… Rasmussen obviously shows larger swings from both ends, while other polls such as ABC News/Wash Post show less fall from the top, but do register the upswing in the disapproval column.

Regardless of which poll you follow or place more confidence in, there is NO WAY to interpret it as soaring… even using the poll from the writer’s own newspaper.  This isn’t breaking news, I mean after all this was a small piece about the first lady wanting more to do then hug people, not some editorial on where the political parties stand in the public eye.  But it is indicative of the culture in media of saying what you want to believe, and what you hope others will believe… and I have to think it is purposeful.

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In other news that I cribbed from Drudge, a volcano erupting near Japan was caught on camera by the International Space Station conveniently passing by overhead.  For more pictures and info, head over to The Daily Mail.


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The AFL-CIO is the mother of all unions (I’ve talked about them here), and a brief little article here talks about how representatives of the union were passing out hard hats on Capitol Hill in a campaign to represent workers here in America.  Funny thing, guess where the hats were made?  That’s right… China.  I guess they like to get products that are affordable like many of the rest of us; too bad it goes against everything they stand for.  In defense they said:

Obviously our policy is to only use union vendors and it was a mistake by a new staffer who ordered them and unfortunately wasn’t caught before they went out.

If I had a nickel for every time a “new staffer” was to blame for something.

HT: Drudge

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Just returned from Cancun – glad to see the other CAI writers keeping the home fires burning.  Flight back was filled with screaming and yelling kids, while parents idly sat by… numb perhaps, but still very unhelpful!

But thankfully I had my ipod and some trusty Remy Zero in the library.  One of my favorite songs of theirs… enjoy (the song definitely, video not so much – definitely not on par with Elijah’s selections).

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Normally when I say those two words it is when discussing some governmental policy that has consequences unintended from the original idea.  For a broad example take an idea like welfare – intended to help people who are in dire straits and need a life line – but which many times appears to cause people to come to rely on that help, and to thus never pull themselves out of the hole that required the welfare in the first place.

fishplatformWell I am happy to share this report about a circumstance that appears to have a positive, and completely accidental, consequence.  Yesterday The Press Telegram reported on the condition of oil rig leggings left in the ocean floor.  According to the article, state law mandates that oil companies completely remove the remnants of an oil rig platform which is costly ($250 million) and requires large amounts of explosives to remove.  So what is the good part of this?  Well it appears that the legs of the platforms many times become de facto reefs for fish, and that a thriving sea life has formed around the pillars:

Although originally foreign to the marine environment, since their installation, the oil platforms have been co-opted by species of fish who have made the rigs their habitat, even preferring it in some cases to a natural reef, according to Chris Lowe, a CSULB marine biology professor.

“It’s basically like a high-rise building for fish, and each level actually provides another level of sea-floor habitat,” he said.

One of the reasons for the boon in fish is a moratorium on fishing near the oil rigs, which makes it about as near a preserve as you can get.  So not only do the fish have a habitat that is fairly well protected, but there is also the matter of the $250 million.  An option the article points out (and that is practiced by the Gulf states) is to strike a deal where the companies are allowed to leave the pilings and a portion of the money that would have been used to remove them are diverted to an alternate fund, usually in an environmental focus.

I like this idea.  The money is already accounted for by the oil company in their original valuation of the project, so they aren’t losing extra cash (in fact if a deal is struck it sounds as if they save money), an artificial reef is maintained, and the state gets a lump o’ cash… which if you haven’t heard, California NEEDS!

This article here paints a more nuanced picture of the idea.  Environmentalists believe that this keeps fish from properly habituating in natural reefs that are available.  The article states that pending legislation for this idea fell through in 2006 because of these concerns.  Don’t know if a debate has resurfaced in legislature or not… but it does seem that the debate is odd on the environmentalists part because as the Telegram article points out, when you dynamite the posts to remove them you kill everything living there.

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I love this quote from George Will’s column, Have We Got a Deal For You at GM.

Washington’s “rescue” of GM began because GM is “too big to fail,” and bankruptcy is (well, was) “unthinkable.” Big? GM’s market capitalization, $375.8 million on Wednesday, is about the size of California Pizza Kitchen’s ($340 million) — is it too big to fail? — and one-eleventh that of Harley-Davidson ($4.3 billion). Fail? If GM has not already failed, New Coke was a success.

cpkI love the idea of someone uttering the phrase, CPK is too big to fail!  

As a reminder market cap is what shareholders value a firm as; found simply as the number of shares outstanding times the price of the share.  Share prices are determined by what the owners (investors) feel the present value is of future free cash flows.  Obviously the days of saying, “As GM goes, so goes the nation” are gone as far as referring to an economic indication of the nation.  The phrase may still have strict relevance though as a indicator of the political condition of our nation.

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