Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Common Man, Uncommonly Bad
Mrs. Rants sent this letter to The Common Man restaurant, Concord NH.
My husband and I visited your Concord restaurant on 8-29 for dinner. I can't recall the name of the server we had, but it was a young man and we were seated upstairs in the lounge at about 5:30.I wanted to share with you a really weird and annoying experience we had.

I am visibly pregnant and in my 3rd trimester. As soon as we sat down, our server said "We love pregnant women here at the Common Man!" Odd. He took our drink order, giving a rundown of all the non-alcoholic drinks you have to offer. I ordered an iced tea, as did my husband. Then, the young man turned to me and said "I know you can't but..." Then turned to my husband and proceeded to tell him about the daily wine special. Wait a second, "I can't?" Is it Common Man policy to bar pregnant women from enjoying a glass of wine? Our server left, and returned a few minutes later to take our dinner order. I got just an entree, while my husband got an entree and a salad. He then turned to me and said "I would like to suggest to you our summer salad..." and told me about a salad with berries and fruit on top. I said no thank you because I am unable to eat large meals at this stage of my pregnancy. He then said that that was ok, because this salad aided in digestion, and was full of antioxidants that were good for the baby. "After all" he said, "she is eating for two!" and winked at my husband. You have got to be kidding me!

I was pretty irritated by the server's constant referral to my pregnancy. Sometimes, we pregnant women like to go out into the world and not be treated walking womb. We don't like unsolicited nutritional advice, we don't like to be treated "special". We certainly don't like to be told we are "eating for two". The health of my baby is between my OB/GYN and myself. Whether or not I drink alcohol is none of the Common Man's business or the business of my 20-something waiter.

If it is your policy to treat pregnant women "special," I am telling you, please DON'T! We put up with enough questions strange comments, and unwanted advice from friends, loved ones and coworkers to really tire of it. Just server dinner with a smile and refill the water glasses please. Very simple.

Please talk with your waitstaff about proper ettiquite when serving pregnant women. After all, I suspect you wouldn't treat someone in a wheelchair differently than anyone else.
I'd like to say the events described were the extent of the uncomfortable experience. However, much to our horror in walks a college acquantance we both had not seen in years (which was fine by us)! The subject of (no)interest did not see us, but all through the meal Mrs. Rants and I ate distractedly, hoping to remain unnoticed. We scanned what exits were available to us, and after paying our bill we picked a moment when a large group entered the dining room to be seated, using the crowd to block any view of us and we skiddadled out of there successfully.

Senator Seabass
Interesting post about sex offsets - specific positions that politicians take with regards to issues such as abortion and gay marriage that may innoculate said politician from criticism for their unseemly behavior. For instance, Pres. Clinton getting a pass from NOW and women's groups for his sexual behaviors - all because he was seen as a champion of women's issues. Same deal with Sen. Kennedy and his years of grab-assing. Having taken the wrong stance on the issues, Sen. Larry Craig has no sex offsets to cash in to weather the storm.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Allah Gave Rock and Roll To You

Heavy metal and fashionable hairstyles In Iran.
And as was mentioned in the comments from this related post,
"Ironically Gene Simmons has had at least 72 virgins and he didn't even have to martyr himself."
The Kids in Iran Are Alright

Rather than use PowerPoint, my next presentation to the company Board will be delivered via the dramatized gestures of a politically tinged Giant Political Puppet.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In a world where public awe vanished. When professions suffered insults and disrespect. When deference was a forgotten virtue. Brave men and women fought back and MOUNTED UP!

The Horse Officer: Fearless law enforcement
The Horse Lawyer: Six legged public defense before the court
The Horse Umpire: Balls & strikes and no argument from the managers
The Horse Miss America: Her talent is to whinny for world peace
The Horse Entertainment Reporter: There's no outrunning this Paparazzi
The Horse Illegal Alien: Show jumps any fence - no matter how high.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Book I Read:
The Forgotten Man
by Amity Shlaes

Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.

Say what? An, "instrument of unimagined power"? Was this spoken by George W. Bush you guess? Or perhaps Donald Rumsfeld? Surprisingly to some, the answer is no. This incredible statement was uttered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his 2nd Inaugural address on January 20th, 1937.

Not much in contemporary politics is so lionized as FDR and his New Deal. Indeed, no lefty politician fails to offer venerations to FDR and sadly no contemporary Republican dares to challenge his legacy. Today's political terms of debate have not moved much since FDR. Indeed, the Democrat party continues to honor issue and identity groups that FDR empowered and made dependants of the State, including farmers and labor unions. And Republicans are cast as guardians of the wealthy; the rapacious, and the exploitive as they were back in FDRs day. Apparatchiks of FDRs administration would feel at home in today's MoveOn and DailyKos communities. FDR's effects cast a long shadow.

Indeed, reading this extraordinary book I could not anticipate what each succeeding page would reveal regarding FDRs New Deal excesses.

That FDRs federal budgets in each year outspent what the federal budgets of all other years combined spent.

That under FDR's Works Progress Administration thousands of artists, writers, playwrites, and photographers were employed to produce among other things favorable propaganda promoting New Deal successes. (Karl Rove could only wish to get away with a fraction of such things!).

That Rex Tugwell, intellectual cadre of FDRs "Brain Trust" (and admirer of Josef Stalin), as head of FDR's Resettlement Administration was tasked to resettle thousands of urban and rural poor into planned suburban utopias (such as Greenbelt, MD) to serve as initial experiments in socialist state planning.

That FDR proposed a court packing scheme to staff the court with up to six additional Supreme Court justices of his choosing. (Sens. Biden and Schumer's bedwetting tantrums over Alito and Roberts are laughable in light of this).

Amity Shlaes' narrative whips by at breakneck speed, cataloging the degree and breadth of expansion of federal government power under FDR, slowing her narrative down at times to check in with her main protagonists, the "Forgotten Man" - those heroes that stood to defend the freedoms of individualism and individual action in the face of FDRs massive socialist collectivisation. "The Forgotten Man" was a idea popularized before FDRs time and was in reference to instances where Group A of people (the power class) discuss with Group B (power class & intellectuals) the plight of Group X (the underclass). Group A and Group B decide on a course of action to help Group X which involves coercing Group C (The Forgotten Man) to pony up the cash and bear the brunt of the effort. FDR turned this imagery around to suggest that Group X was "The Forgotten Man" all along and that Group C, the traditional "Forgotten Man", (the middle class) was not at all disadvantaged in his New Deal redistribution scheme.

Shlaes' book is to return the focus back to the original "Forgotten Man" and detail how traditional bootstrap individualists endured the FDR regime. Amazing characters such as black preacher Father Divine who lead his multiracial congregation to reject subservience to New Deal solutions. Or about Bill W. - the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the self-help movement. Or financier, former Treasury Secretary, and wealthy philanthropist Andrew Mellon who's private pursuit of collecting mankind's finest works of art culminated in his donating his entire collection to the United States for the establishment (and funds to build) a National Gallery of Art for the free enjoyment of all citizens.

In the face of dehumanizing collectivism, Shlaes' "Forgotten Man" strikes back and offers lessons to today's own freedom loving individuals waging battle against collectivizing government and rejecting those politicians peddling promises of socialist utopias. Their dissent is truly patriotic.

A Climate of Assumptions
Kreblog emailed me a number of interesting articles regarding the NASA climate record revision controversy. NASA admitted to their data errors, and proceeded to damage control by downplaying the significance of the change. Indeed, NASA's (the agency that can't even engineer a competent ceramic tile or piece of insulating foam) politicized lead scientist James Hansen issued a response to those questioning his fallibility:
Make no doubt, however, if tipping points are passed, if we, in effect, destroy Creation, passing on to our children, grandchildren, and the unborn a situation out of their control, the contrarians who work to deny and confuse will not be the principal culprits. The contrarians will be remembered as court jesters. There is no point to joust with court jesters. They will always be present. They will continue to entertain even if the Titanic begins to take on water. Their role and consequence is only as a diversion from what is important.
The real deal is this: the ‘royalty’ controlling the court, the ones with the power, the ones with the ability to make a difference, with the ability to change our course, the ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil, automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children. The court jesters are their jesters, occasionally paid for services, and more substantively supported by the captains’ disinformation campaigns.
Court jesters serve as a distraction, a distraction from usufruct. Usufruct is the matter that the captains wish to deny, the matter that they do not want their children to know about. They realize that if there is no ‘gorilla’, then usufruct is not an important issue for them. So, with the help of jesters, they deny the existence of the gorilla.

Is this the talk of an objective scientist? Would anyone trust similar language coming from a spokesman of private industry? Why should we trust this man or his claims, when he has guardian of the data failed to correctly portray the observed record until forced to do so because of an outsider's independent audit?

What rankles about Hansen's hubris and others of his ilk is their disingenuousness. For instance, Hansen offers up this set of images as some kind of undeniable proof positive:
The ridiculousness of this is that the viewer is expected to treat the data represented by each image of the globe as equal with its counterpart. 1998 and 2006 images are presented with equal weighting as the images of years 1921 and 1934. That there is more red (representing hotter temperature) in the latter years and less red in the earlier years is presented to us an an indication of global climate change. Yet it is utterly fraudulent to present each table as equally weighted when it is clear that the means to measure temperature on a global scale favor the most recent years. Atmospheric data from satellites, the professionalization of a broadly based global weather service, and a broader base of data points to measure give us more knowledge of our present conditions - earlier years cannot offer us this same wealth of information.

Indeed, the most accurate measure of temperature comes from an actual reading of temperature, most often from simple mercury thermometers historically speaking. A most accurate record of temperature only spans as far back as a few hundred years tops when men of the Enlightenment began to measure the natural conditions around them. Importantly, its this placement of the thermometer, and consistent record keeping, that gives us any kind of accurate reading at all (and the means to determine averages, means, and extremes) of what the temperature record was just a few hundred years ago. The thermometers were placed where it was useful to measure - even our Founding Fathers participated in this activity. However, go back any further and the use of the thermometer (and truly accurate temperature readings) disappears from the record. This lack of a truly long-term, accurate record forces scientists to go looking for proxy indicators of temperature: tree rings, ice core samples, etc. How useful this proxy data is is a key crux of the whole climate change debate.

Comparing conjectures of temperature 1000 years ago or limited temperature data sets even 80 years ago with a wealth of temperature readings from just 10 years ago is not all things equal. Hansen can pump the gloom and doom all he wants. If the science was settled, climate science would not be the hottest area of research taking place in all of science today (pun intended). No scientist researches settled questions. That so many scientists today are researching the climate is the best indicator that the science is FAR from settled - no matter how much the climate-change pushers try to stifle the pursuit of substantiation and inquiry.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Will Al Gore Film a Retraction?
Interesting stuff. NASA has silently updated its yearly average surface temperature data; 1998 is no longer the warmest year on record, 1934 now holds that honor. 1998 is the second warmest year and 1931 is the third warmest. In fact, 5 of the 10 hottest years occurred before 1945. Why NASA updated its records is an interesting aside. Steve McIntyre, a climate data fact checker inquired with NASA climatologists (including James Hansen - a prominant climate change theorist) how they arrived at their data. Hansen and NASA refused to provide the calculations, so McIntyre walked back the data to determine for himself how it was calculated. Noticing that the data looked suspect for the years 2000 onward, McIntyre brought his findings to the attention of NASA. Interestingly, NASA has now updated its temperature record data with what one has to assume are corrected figures. More on the story is here.

Will mainstream media and biased documentarians update their climate change assertions in light of the revised data? Or will dinosaur media continue to demonize those who dissent from the dominant climate change fearmongering? Given that prominant preachers of climate change fear relied on the NASA data to buttress their arguments, will they offer corrections as loudly as when they proffered the initial claims? If Al Gore tells us to trust the data, and then the data changes in a direction that weakens his argument, is Al Gore and the like to be trusted re: their claims?

No matter how hysterical the Climate Change Pushers shout to the contrary, the science is not settled.