A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Monday, February 28, 2005

The Little War God

Mars has a problem: It’s too small. Weighing in at about a tenth of Earth’s mass and about half our planet’s diameter, Mars simply couldn’t hold onto enough of its atmosphere to stay warm. Had it been the size of, say, Venus, its greater gravity would have kept a tighter hold on its air. That air would have trapped more solar radiation (what we call “The Greenhouse Effect”) and equatorial temperatures would probably remain closer to its present day high (around 60° F) instead of its present-day average (about -70° F). Though it’d still be a cold planet with huge polar caps, there’d be lots of liquid water too. And liquid water + basic elements + stable planetary environment + sunlight = life.

But, alas, that is not the case. Little Mars and its weak gravity allowed the majority of the atmosphere to slip slowly away into space, and over billions of years all that’s left is the thin envelope of carbon dioxide we see today. It’s less than 1 / 100 the thickness of our atmosphere; as far as complex life like plants and animals and people are concerned it might as well not even be there. Exposure to Mars’ surface conditions means a fast, painful, gasping death for Earthlings. And for those who still held visions of Burroughs’s Barsoomian Mars, there is insult to injury as well: Mars isn’t even red. It’s more of a mottled dun color … the really red pictures of Mars you’ve seen are either false-colorized images or artists conceptions. The real-color images of Mars have always been around for people to see, but magazines generally don’t print them because they’re boring:

[photo removed]

However, recent discoveries show huge underground water reserves on Mars. They are largely frozen, but in some places there is sub-surface pack ice the size and volume of the North Sea; Mars has plenty of water, it’s just currently more solid than solvent. It wasn’t always so: In ages past, when Mars’ atmosphere was thicker, water ran freely across the surface. There were almost certainly large salty seas, if not outright oceans. Depending on how long this wet phase of Mars lasted, there might have been life as well. In fact, recent discoveries show that methane – which on Earth is a gaseous byproduct of decomposing organic material and a sure sign that life is present – exists close to the Martian surface in some areas. And it’s being continuously replenished somehow.

A Frozen, Buried Martian Sea (ESA Photo) Posted by Hello

No one is saying – yet – that this methane seepage around Mars’ icy areas is caused by living things; we can’t be sure what’s causing it. There could be some weird Martian chemical process taking place, or Mars might for some reason have vast underground reservoirs of methane. We either need to send a very advanced rover, or, far better, some people. They need to dig around in that cold Martian soil, scrape up some of that ancient ice, and test it for hardy little Martian critters that might have adapted to life on a cold, dry, thin-aired world. Life on Earth has itself adapted to some rather extreme conditions, so there is no reason to assume that simple Martian organisms could not have evolved strategies to cope with the drying of the planet and the rarifying of its atmosphere. Mars was wet for a significant part of its history. The water is still there, albeit frozen solid and buried. It would not surprise me – though it’d certainly thrill me to no end – if 10 or 20 years down the road we find the Martian equivalent of bacteria or algae.

Just another small step towards an understanding of our place in the universe, but a giant leap away from the juvinile mythology of a human-centered one. There are those who believe our species is not ready to accept such a thing. I think they are wrong, but that knowledge will come regardless; one day soon we will have to come to grips with the fact that it's not all about us. Better sooner, in my opinion, than later.

I’ve been working on the latest BPCP update, which is huge. I’m two dozen new entries into it and I think I might have just passed the halfway point, so it’ll take another couple lunch hours to finish up. I’ll have it posted before the end of the week though. Maybe even tomorrow or Wednesday.

Have a good week, dear readers.



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Too Graphic for the MSM

Okay, the blogosphere is all abuzz this week with discussion of the Eason Jordan business. That’s all well and good; as a blogger, I’m glad it was one (or several) of us that brought down another biased news executive. The only concern I have is that this kind of thing must not go to people’s heads … remember that blogs aren’t some sort of holy, inerrant medium that is utterly free from sin. We all have, do, and will continue to make occasional mistakes. If we forget that – if we allow the thrill of taking out slanted MSM bigwigs to become more important than the reasons why they need to be taken out – well, then, we’re no better than Rather and Jordan.

Okay, enough cautionary rhetoric from Sandor's soapbox.

My Dad sent me an e-mail over the weekend. It was one of those “Forward This to 10 People if You Agree” e-mails, but this one actually had an interesting point. It contained five photographs and was entitled “Shocking Pictures From Iraq”. Of course I instantly thought of prison abuse, leveled buildings in Fallujah, and mangled corpses of women and kids.

Here are the pictures from the e-mail:

Iraq 1 Posted by Hello

Iraq 2 Posted by Hello

Iraq 3 Posted by Hello

Iraq 4 Posted by Hello

Iraq 5 Posted by Hello

Now here’s the point: Why haven’t we seen these on the news? I see dozens of photographs and video clips from Iraq every day, if not more. Why is it that the MSM so loves to show us insurgents with AK-47s, bleeding bomb victims, and pyramids of naked Iraqi prisoners, but they never – never – show us just one like those posted above?

This is real, folks. Those pictures are not fakes, and the events they depict are not illusions. You see the third and fourth pictures down? I myself participate in the program that provides those school kits for Iraqi kids. I get e-mails every couple weeks from Jim Hake, the man who organizes it. Our soldiers do stuff like this, all day, every day. This stuff is far more representative of the work we’re doing there than the pictures of dead civilians and burning humvees, but we never see it on the news.

And that is why bloggers are having so much success taking down these media hotshots and their slanted stories. Dan Rather was so impatient to get his anti-Bush piece onto 60 Minutes that he got sloppy with his fact-checking, and Power Line nailed his ass to the wall for it. Eason Jordan, so eager to make the US military look bad, accused American soldiers of intentionally killing reporters. He got dogpiled by dozens, then hundreds, of bloggers who knew he was lying through his teeth.

The reaction from the MSM has largely been “Why are you doing this to us!?!” Well folks, look at the news you report to us, and then look at those pictures I posted above. See a disparity there?

That’s why we’re doing it to you.



Saturday, February 12, 2005

Diagramming Bias with Professor Dinocrat

Click the quote.

Bauder’s piece reveals the low standards and bias of the Associated Press. It may also illustrate the emergence of a “blogosphere vendetta” template in stories chronicling the fall of Old Media figures, such as Dan Rather and Eason Jordan. If so, the Old Media, in their blindness, still have a long way to fall.

Next week, the good professor will make a phone out of a coconut and seaweed.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Climate debate: How to achieve a "Consensus"...

Easy! Just conveniently leave out of the debate those who disagree with you.

Environment Canada scientist Henry Hengeveld said Patterson is commenting on matters outside his field.

Hengeveld goes on to say for a paleoclimatologist to opine on the climate is like a "dermatologist comenting on the diagnosis of a neurologist...and really being out of his depth."

Not only is this contemptuous remark beyond the pale in terms of ego, it also happens to be, well, incredibly stupid.

I can see this is the guy that misses all the trick questions on the SAT.

Paleoclimatology is to climate as
A: Cosmology is to astronomy
B: Geology is to rocks
C: All the above
D: Bushitlerchimp is eeeevil.

So let me get this straight oh wise one. The study of the historical ebb and flow of climate change isn't significant to determining the effects and causes of contemporary climate variances?

This is post-modernism in action. Forget yesterday. It doesn't matter. They only thing that's real is how I interepret the world today.

At least he unwittingly admits his own weak position: Hengeveld said climate science is a complex area with thousands of papers being produced, and it is easy to "cherry-pick" the papers that support a particular view.

Amen, brother.

Now, call me crazy, but what exactly is it that heats this place anyway?


The Sun maybe?

What's this crazy Dane gibbering about here: Climate changes over the past century coincide with Solar Activity.

Oh, right.

D: Bushitlerchimp is eeeevil.

Link found on Lucianne.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Prisoner Exchange

From snopes.com’s internet rumor file comes this e-mail. It is currently making the rounds into all of our inboxes, and snopes verifies it as having actually been written by the German businessman - one Mathias Döpfner - it's attributed to:

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe — your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades, inhuman, suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and, even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement. How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany.

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.

One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.

Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.

His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.

On the contrary, we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even Otto Schily justifiably criticizes.


Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy, because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake — literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation, or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "Reach out to terrorists, to understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor's house.

Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice.

So it seems that another American has, unfortunately, been born and raised overseas. Frankly, I think the Europeans should be required to send any children that show signs of moral courage to America early on, so that they can be raised among their peers. It’d be better for everyone; Europe wouldn’t suffer the awkwardness of having to occasionally deal with a genuinely potent human being, and we wouldn’t have to waste valuable time granting green cards to people who belong here anyway.

But that still leaves the problem of folks like the above-mentioned Mathias Döpfner … bright, brave Gullivers presently standing among Europe’s throngs of pacifist Lilliputians. I recommend something akin to a prisoner exchange: For each Döpfner they send us, we’ll give them ten of our best free-range liberal elite. They can’t just take whoever they want, though, because then Hollywood would be emptied immediately but we’d still be left with universities full of self-righteous intellectual fakes like Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky. We’ll have to arrange a system where they can pick nine from “List A” (seething socialist college professors, grad students who haven’t showered since Jerry Garcia died, and other assorted leftist muckadoos), and one from “List B” (liberal Hollywood and Washington elites). The moderate Democrats aren’t on the table; we’re still hoping to turn them into a loyal opposition some day.

This is a good plan. Michael Moore will almost certainly be among their first “List B” picks, and I find the idea of that cholesterol-slurping blubbercake living in a country with socialized medicine amusing:

“Arrgh! My heart! Aorta … clogged with … pork fat.”

“Oh, not to worry Monsieur Moore; our team of fifth-rate cardiologists will see you next month!”

Ah, there's my deep and abiding dislike of left-wing pasifists and socialists! Allow me to bask in the warm glowing glow of that philosophical emnity ... I missed it so while off camping (some funny / beautiful photos of that later in the week, by the way). Ciao for niao, good readers.



Monday, February 07, 2005

Correlation and Causation

So Ruth likes words.

I do too, but I also like me some numbers.

Here's a nice page subtitled Misuse and Misconception of Statistical Facts

The bit on Perrier is great. Who knew John Maynard Keynes had a sense of humor? "in the long run, we are all dead".


Sunday, February 06, 2005

These are Patriots?

Not everybody is prepared to live their political values, but these are people who are," said Jason Mogus, an Internet entrepreneur in Vancouver whose communicopia.net offers marketing services for progressive companies and nonprofit groups, and whose canadianalternative.com is often the first stop for Americans eager to learn about moving north.

Wrong Mr. Mogus.

Most people in this country absolutely do live according to their political values. Not values so narrowly and divisively defined by the labels Democrat or Republican. Rather, those broad and encompassing values as outlined by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those values that made the citizens of the United States of America unique in the concept that We the People are ultimately responsible not only for our own lives, but also for the direction our country moves.

In order to retain the awesome responsibility of self-determination, you have to be willing to live up to it. You do that by participating in our great society: We continue to work our jobs even when we disagree with our current administration so that we can fund our society with the taxes we pay. We recognize the rule of law which provides the structure by which our society maintains its stability.

And YES, we live according to our political values in that we vote regularly to ratify or reject the people who have the brass to throw their lives into the arena of elected office and then, win or lose, we continue to set our goals high and refine our message.

These people, these very few naifs who leave for more sympathetic habitats north of the border, have decided to abdicate their responsibility to their country simply because the rest of us, the majority of us, refuse to subjugate our broad value set to the pet causes they pursue with intractable obsessiveness.

Please. This is hardly the stuff of patriotic legend. Ok, maybe in a an effete, emotional, and pathetically impotent way; French Canada will certainly approve. But come on, it is hardly representative of the finer ideals we Americans have a rich history of embodying. Love or Hate him, compared to these self-made martyrs, Michael Moore is truly a fine example of a citizen. At least he is sticking around to fight the good fight in the marketplace of ideas, unarmed though he may be.

So really, it's perfectly fine by me if these delinquents want to take their balls and go home. Quite frankly, We the People of America don't need them.

We have a healthy set of our own.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Eek! I've Got Worms!

Krakatoa got an e-mail from my sandor.atz gmail account that was infected with a virus - the "bagel" worm, to be precise. It's sort of a mystery as to how it happened, because I never opened an e-mail matching the bagel profile (I can't say for sure that I never received one, because I get lots of stuff in my spam bin that gets deleted without my ever seeing it). But I certainly don't open unfamiliar attachments in any case, so the situation really is kinda bizarre.

Anyhoo, if other folks in my address book got a copy of that one from me, please let me know here in the comments ... I'd like to get to the bottom of this. I'm going camping this weekend - our annual cold-weather camping trip to Ginnie Springs in North Florida - but a dogged pursuit of these worm culprits shall ensue early next week.

Have a good weekend all.



Proof of Netherland's Crimes against Humanity

From my inbox:

I do not intend to take your time unduly as this is
not a financial plea.I am the son to the late
foreign affairs minister of the Federal Republic
Of Zaire, Dr. Pinga Kasenda.

Please,keep confidential as I am presently in the refugee camp in
the Netherlands,with routine restriction on my movement.
I can easily be contacted for details/documents at; wanami@cheerful.com.

Thanks in anticipation.
Wanami Kasenda

This poor dispossessed soul is stuck in a brutal Netherland refugee camp. I wonder if I should tip the MSM?


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

What Jack said...

Jack Risco @ Dinocrat on the strange bedfellows thrown together in their shared revilement of the U.S.

Choosing to see yourself as a victim is profoundly wrong, both psychologically and morally. You abdicate moral responsibility by doing so, and are able to justify any abuse you inflict on others.

I couldn't agree more.


Two Sickening Stories

First up today: More about my new favorite moonbat! Ward Churchill is now under much-deserved fire from Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, who sent a letter to UC requesting Churchill’s resignation. A World Net Daily article quotes Gov. Owens thusly:

"Not only are [Churchill's] writings outrageous and insupportable, they are at odds with the facts of history. The thousands of innocent people – and innocent they were – who were murdered on September 11 were murdered by evil cowards. Indeed, if anyone could possibly be compared to the evildoers of Nazi Germany, it is the terrorists of the 21st century who have an equally repugnant disregard for innocent human life.

"No one wants to infringe on Mr. Churchill's right to express himself. But we are not compelled to accept his pro-terrorist views at state taxpayer subsidy nor under the banner of the University of Colorado."

Excellently stated, I’m in complete agreement. And on a side note, we have a new picture of this armchair revolutionary:

Ward: Warrior of the People Posted by Hello

Rockynogin pointed out that his glasses in the previous photo I published weren’t particularly revolutionary-looking. Well, Che Churchill certainly seems to have solved that one here; if those shades don't scream “socialist uprising” I don't know what does. Even the beret is pure Guevara, and the AK-47 lets you know he’s serious, damnit.

I wonder how many pictures that poor, sycophantic grad student had to take before getting it just right (“No, no, look off into the distance as if you can see the Marxist revolution marching over the horizon. And remember to point the barrel away from you this time.”).

Next, from the Shoulda Hada Gun category: Twenty-eight year old actress Nicole duFresne stood up to the dull-witted thugs who tried to rob her last Thursday. That’s awesome, I applaud her courage and pit-bull attitude. Unfortunately the thugs had a gun – thugs tend not to care about restrictive liberal gun laws, you know – and one of them shot her dead. If Miss duFresne had been carrying, say, a snub-nosed .357 in her purse she wouldn’t have had to use harsh language and attitude to defend herself. She could have – should have – simply gunned down the bastards right there in the street (yes, even the 14 year-old, who cold-bloodedly stole the phone from Nicole’s purse as she lay bleeding to death on the ground).

The Brave Nicole duFresne Posted by Hello

Thanks largely to the anti-gun crowd, however, it was once again the criminals who were armed and the honest citizen who was defenseless. The result: A good and courageous life cut short, and a band of thugs that will either roam free to kill again or cost all of us $30,000 a year to keep in prison.

Would you care to explain to me again how that’s a fair trade, you simpering gun-control nutjobs?



Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"Mother Killer Not Guilty"

So goes the incendiary title at The Corner

So, I read something like this, and I can't help a feeling of outrage. And yet, I do believe in such a thing as temporary insanity as a valid defense. I think mostly I am concerned that these days, you can find a board-certified psychologist who will testify to almost anything.

I can't help but think how easy the defense is. But yes, killing one's children does indicate a pretty serious break from reality.

Understanding that a psychotic break is truly not representative of a person's normal actions, what is the correct resolution considering the often conflicting demands of justice, mercy and public safety?


On Patriots and Moonbats

Fellow blogger Chris Ness of FlashBang arrived at the MCRD in San Diego about 10 days ago, and started Boot Camp last week; you can find his farewell post here, and updates from his girlfriend here, here, and here. It sounds like things are moving along smoothly for Chris – aka Metallica Rat – and that he is well on his way to becoming a Marine. Normally I change out anyone on my blogroll who quits posting for more than a couple weeks, but in this case I’m perfectly willing to make an exception. FlashBang will continue to be updated – however irregularly – by Krystal anyway, so there will usually be something to read on the other end of the link.

Best of luck to Chris. Godspeed, brother.

Of course, for every brave young person willing to put his life on the line for his country, there is also a dumbass moonbat college professor willing to spit on the graves of the fallen. It seems that Ward Churchill – who compared the 9/11 victims to Nazi Adolph Eichmann while praising the terrorist’s “gallant sacrifice” – has quit his post at the University of Colorado. He cites “the current political climate” as his reason; it’s all the evil Republikkkans fault. Gee Ward, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that your crackpot ideology is vomitously repulsive to nine out of ten people who aren’t a radical Islamist, would it?

Actually, you know what? That’s fine. Blame it on the political climate. If said climate is noncondusive to calling innocent victims “Eichmanns” and terrorists “gallant”, that’s just 100% okey-dokey with me. I’m happy to have helped vote that climate into power, in fact. I also think it’s great that we let terminally foolish, morally bankrupt jackasses like Churchill say whatever they like; the far left are revealed as liars whenever we show our respect for dissent (even if it’s dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers dissent). And it never hurts to know exactly which campuses guys like this are creeping around on anyway, so we can all make sure not to send our kids there.

Churchill. Note the hip revolutionary hair! (AP photo) Posted by Hello

Keep talking, Ward. I’m sure Michael Moore is on his way to make a movie about you already … I hear he had lots of film left over from his “policing the voting irregularities” piece last November.

And hey, traffic on this site has jumped by about 120% over the last couple weeks. Anyone know what’s up with that? Did someone semi-popular blogroll us? Or has everyone just finally realized how smart me and Krakatoa (but mostly me) are?



Condi in '08?

From Glen Reynolds, a link to Draft Condi Rice for the Prez nomination in 08.

I particularly like reason number 6:

6. She would also be the first unmarried President in over a century. All the supermarket mags could speculate as to whom she's dating now. (Okay, they could do it with Bill Clinton, too, but this would have a lot more decorum). Stolen glances at Prince Charles? Why did she appoint a 27 year old as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Paparazzi could pursue her as she sneaked away with a Marine guard. The Secret Service could detain the paparazi and "accidentally" drop them off the 14th Street Bridge. This gets better by the minute.

John Hawkins has his doubts, but I can't help but think Condi has all the tools for the job. And be honest, who doesn't want to see her debate Hillary?