Climate change debated

 My SUV reply didn’t sit well with my Global Cooling coorespondent:

Harry:

Apparently you referred to me as a skeptic of global warming.  Change happens.  The climate has changed.  Apparently it is changing.  We humans have evidence of climate change that has occurred.  However, I suggest that no one knows how the climate is going to change.  I also suggest that no one knows whether or to what extent human activity is causing climate change.  Lastly, I suggest that we humans aren’t going to “change our evil ways” (relative to how our activity might affect the climate) unless and until we are on the verge of inconvenience, discomfort, or pain.

I was recently involved in an e-mail exchange with a friend who expressed criticism of especially large and fuel inefficient recreational four-wheel-drive trucks.  Obviously, such trucks and their consumption of fuel can reasonably be regarded as unnecessary, and I didn’t suggest otherwise.  However, this friend travels several thousand miles each fall, to hunt pheasants in South Dakota, which, I suggested to him, also involves unnecessary consumption of fuel.  I got the impression that he was irritated by my argument.  Regarding the unnecessary consumption of apparently non-renewable energy, probably almost all of us humans have an ox that we don’t want gored. 

No longer a skeptic?  Indeed, change does happen. Now you are merely skeptical that anyone can predict how the change will proceed or to what extent we humans have contributed to it. Fair enough.
As for me, I’m not so fatalistic. You believe that we humans will only change our climate altering ways when we are on “the verge of inconvenience, discomfort or pain.” Well, that’s one economic expectation although the fellow who did the most to contribute to this model, Adam Smith, also apparently believed that there were some things people should do even if his invisible hand worked against them. In this he was motivated by a religious sense of duty. I’ll bet Smith would have approved of energy conservation.
As for your duck hunting friend there is a word for such people – “hypocrite.”  Even though I drive a gas stingy little Prius I too like to travel which makes me a hypocrite as well. Here’s my ethical problem. On the one hand I know that travel is good for the economy while at the same time it uses up non renewable energy. To my credit I’m not interested in ignoring this conundrum like a fatalist. Instead I would prefer to find ways to travel while limiting energy consumption.

Tom DeLay “…had guys across the aisle…”

At the moment I’m listening to NPR’s talk show and, of course, Tom DeLay’s resignation is the topic.

According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who had lots of very nice things to say about DeLay’s work ethic, one of the reasons that Delay got so much done was because “…he had guys across the aisles (Democrats) that he could count on to get things done.”

I wonder who Luntz had in mind?

Moral Dilemma

I find myself wearing the same damn shoes I wore in 1973. I’d protested our involvment in Vietnam in peace marches. My opinion was that we had no idea what we were doing there and that our presence was making things worse. I thought that the “domino theory” (which warned us that one nation’s fall to communism would knock others into the communist orbit) was simple minded. I also thought it was a great insult to the power of democracy and free enterprise.

On the other hand we had made Vietnam our business and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese had taken us at our word and cast their lot with us. Our leaving would be their doom.

Few peaceniks paid heed to this embarassing fact during Vietnam and too few pay it heed today in Iraq.

It’s true that peace activists have learned a thing or two since Vietman. In the Seventies a few dimwits thought it was cool to spit on returning troops. Today’s peace activists slogans all seem geared at doing what’s best for our troops by bringing them home.

I don’t know what we can do at this sorry point in Condaleeza and George’s war to save the Iraqies from our elephantine meddling but the peace movement’s silence on this subject leaves me as cold as the exploitation of the war by Turd blossom for partisan advantage. 

From Andrew Sullivan - We should think long and hard before we leave these Iraqies behind to deal with the mess we’ve left them. Much credit is owed to the US troops who would rather risk life and limb than let these people down.

Yglesias Award

One of Andrew Sullivan’s best ideas is an award he gives to pundits who, as Sullivan puts it: “actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe.” I’m not sure who Yglesias is (because I don’t have an index of pundits) but Sullivan gives one of these awards to Markos Moulitsas, the very liberal blogger of the Daily Kos’s for showing that not all Republicans are xenophobes.

Google has failed me so far

I’ve googled for “bloggers,” “columnists,” and “pundits” but haven’t found a comprehensive list of know-it-alls. Somehow this seems like a serious oversight. Sure you can google individual names and get random information on just about any of them but there ought to be a ranking kind of like the ones for politicians. Anyone up to putting one together?

a List of columnists

Here’s a list of columnists. Some of the links actually work. The list doesn’t tell you anything about the politics of the writers only the publication or blog they are associated with. There are lots of missing names.

Historical forecasting

In my continuing search for a pundit glossary I ran across an interesting article on ranking Presidents in the Opinion Journal. Written just before last year’s election it found that a survey of historians equally balanced between Democrats and Republicans put George W Bush squarely in the middle of the Presidential pack. Of course, it was a little premature. There is no historical distance yet for an objective judgement.

I think Bush’s ranking will decline steadily over time. The year since the election has done nothing to enhance his prospects for a generous appraisal.

News Who?

A couple posts ago I commented that most political blogs, no matter how much they criticize the MSM (mainstream media) depend upon it for content and context. I was looking for a who’s who of pundits and periodicals that I could link to for people trying to figure out how tell what the prejudices the writers approached their writing from. I haven’t found one yet but I did find a two year old list of the top 16 new sites that bloggers linked to in 2003.

It probably hasn’t changed much in two years.

01. The New York Times
02. The Washington Post
03. BBC
04. U.K. Guardian
05. Wired
06. News.com
07. MSNBC
08. CNN
09. Reuters
10. (U.K.) Register
11. Los Angeles Times
12. ABC News
13. (U.K.) Independent
14. The National Review
15. WSJ. Opinion Journal
16. The New Republic

When would Jesus Bolt

A friend sent me the latest Washington Monthly for this article. I found it online. Republican strategists made plans to have the Republican party maintain its power for a generation. It was less ambitious than the Nazi’s who talked about a thousand-year Reich but if this story is any indication it may not even last a generation.

Sunday morning

Even though I’ve been an agnostic since junior high, the time I spend in church every Sunday is important to me. My wife, who has been my Sunday School teacher for better than a decade, intends to go to seminary when she retires in a few years. That should be an adventure.

Today we began a month-long study of the Old Testament’s books of History. I’ve always been intrigued with the idea God took Israel away from one set of inhabitants to give it to the Hebrews. After Rome crushed Israel in about 60 AD Hebrews had to wait 1,900 years to reclaim Israel from the Palestinians who had occupied it during the diaspora. 

Politicial science has a fancy word for the dreams of a people to return to their ancient homelands. Its called irredentism and Jews are not the only irredentists. Over the weekend a small band of irridentist North Americans joined much larger numbers of Hispanics who were protesting the treatment of immigrants in the United States. This small band waved placards claiming America for themselves as decendents of the Maya, Aztec and other native peoples.

It seems to me that the Indian claims on North America have as much validity as the Hebrew claim on Isreal, or to put it another way, no better claim - except for one thing - the Jewish people’s have reclaimed Israel through war and treaty.

There is one fly in the ointment for Jewish Israel. Jewish Israelies don’t have as many babies as Palestinian Israelies. This means that at some time in the future they could be out voted by Palestinians who might wish to act on their own irredentism.

Would the United States support the claims of such a democratic majority if it were to exert itself? This strikes me as a good question to ask on the Sabbath.

Zinni on the ninnies

General Zinni, former Commander of Central Command, on Meet the Press today:

“. . . ever since the end of the first Gulf War, there’s been planning by serious officers and planners and others, and policies put in place – 10 years’ worth of planning were thrown away. Troop levels dismissed out of hand. Gen. Shinseki basically insulted for speaking the truth and giving an honest opinion.”  Video-WMP Video-QT

Harry’s Diary

I still have 55 minutes to put an entry into the ole blog today. Daylight savings will trim an hour off of tonight’s sleep which means I’ll have to get out of bed early to read my Sunday School Lesson.

There were no earlier blog entries because I was out of town and I haven’t yet figured out how to blog by email. We left for the Twin Cities yestereday so that I could pick up several cases of wine from Haskell’s “Nickle Sale.” This is the result of the new hobby which I picked up after my children left the nest and I no longer had to set a good example.

I had just finished insulating the last wall of my “wine cellar” so that the summer temperatures wouldn’t jump up and down so wildly this year. That’s bad for wine. I had researched some recent wine competitions to see what wines had gotten good ratings and compared them with Haskell’s prices. When a gold rating coincided with a really inexpensive bottle of wine I put it on my list. My aim is to become become a cheap wine, wine snob. It was nice to come back home tonight and fill the holes that had accumulated over the winter in my wine racks.

We had dinner last night with my daughter and son-in-law at W. A. Frost. Located on Selby Street in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral Frost is pricey but worth every penny.

Today before we stopped at Haskels we made a quick stop at the Walker Art Center. It occurred to me, as I looked at a series of very well crafted sculptures of humans emerging from the birth canals of various animals that museums are much better places to exhibit some contemporary art than a person’s home.

We also made a stop at Como’s Zoo’s conservatory and inhaled the heady bouquet of clorophyll. The flowers in the sunken garden were bright colorful and made one yearn for Spring.

That’s it. No politics today. We got home and I picked up a Reader to see my column in print. I couldn’t bring myself to read much of the April Fool’s content however because some writers don’t really understand the difference between parody and cruelty. Hey, I’ll happily eviscerate anyone who really deserves it but suggesting that a youthful looking politician is being recruited by a castrati choir . . . that’s just mean!

Polygamy – yet another link pilfered from Sullivan’s Daily Dish

A new television program will soon be showing an apparently happy polygamous family. If, one might ask, if gay marriages are OK why not marriages with multiple partners? A very thoughtful article on the why nots starting with all the men who won’t get wives.

In summary:

“The problem in China and India is sex-selective abortion (and sometimes infanticide), not polygamy; where the marriage market is concerned, however, the two are functional equivalents. In their book, Hudson and den Boer note that “bare branches are more likely than other males to turn to vice and violence.” To get ahead, they “may turn to appropriation of resources, using force if necessary.” Such men are ripe for recruitment by gangs, and in groups they “exhibit even more exaggerated risky and violent behavior.” The result is “a significant increase in societal, and possibly intersocietal, violence.”

Crime rates, according to the authors, tend to be higher in polygynous societies. Worse, “high-sex-ratio societies are governable only by authoritarian regimes capable of suppressing violence at home and exporting it abroad through colonization or war.” In medieval Portugal, “the regime would send bare branches on foreign adventures of conquest and colonization.” (An equivalent today may be jihad.) In 19th-century China, where as many as 25 percent of men were unable to marry, “these young men became natural recruits for bandit gangs and local militia,” which nearly toppled the government. In what is now Taiwan, unattached males fomented regular revolts and became “entrepreneurs of violence.”

This sounds a lot like what’s happening in much of sub-saharan Africa today.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."