Archive for February 2010

The data underlying the famous “hockey stick” global warming graph has finally been found after having earlier been misplaced by leading climate researchers. The newly recovered data confirms the accuracy of the abrupt upward turn in readings characteristic of the “hockey stick” shape found in many global warming projections.

Up until now, however, the data on which the controversial graph had been based was presumed to be lost, so it was not known exactly which aspects of global warming the chart illustrated. Now that the data has been recovered, scientists can state with complete certainty that this updated chart accurately chronicles the past and future trajectory of the global warming crisis.

View the full-size graph by clicking HERE or on the small version shown below:

(Cross-posted at PJM.)

New from me at PJM:

First Ladies’ Pet Projects: Where Does Michelle Obama’s Anti-Obesity Campaign Rank?

Here’s just a sampling — a chart illustrating part of the essay:

First Lady Pet Projects: The Rankings

The following chart ranks each First Lady’s pet project according to how socially significant it was and how successful she was in bringing it to fruition.

Two First Ladies on this chart (Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower) did not really have any pet projects worth noting, while two others (Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton) were what I call “Power First Ladies” whose activities and political involvement were so important that they didn’t really count as “pet projects” but rather were essential components of their husbands’ administrations. Because of this, all four have been excluded from the final rankings.

Although the chart starts in 1933 to be thorough, the list of First Ladies participating in the rankings actually begins proper with Jackie Kennedy.

The column on the right totals up each First Lady’s “Pet Project Rating” by assessing (based on my research) how significant (on a scale of 1 to 10) her pet project was to the nation at large, and multiplying it by how successful she was in bringing it off (again based on my research).

A note on the background colors:

      = Power First Lady (excluded from rankings)

      = Non-participating First Lady (excluded from rankings)

First Lady
Primary cause
(Secondary cause)
Significance  x   Success
(1 – 10 scale)          (1 – 10 scale)
= Pet Project Rating
   (1 – 100 scale)
Eleanor Roosevelt
National policy     10sig. x  6suc. =  60
Bess Truman
Mamie Eisenhower
Jackie Kennedy
White House refurbishment     1sig. x  9suc. =  9
Lady Bird Johnson
( + Project Head Start)
    5sig. x  8suc. =  40
Pat Nixon
Volunteerism     4sig. x  3suc. =  12
Betty Ford
Equal Rights Amendment
( + breast cancer awareness)
    5sig. x  3suc. =  15
Rosalynn Carter
Mental Health     4sig. x  5suc. =  20
Nancy Reagan
Drug Abuse     6sig. x  6suc. =  36
Barbara Bush
Literacy     5sig. x  2suc. =  10
Hillary Clinton
National policy     10sig. x  5suc. =  50
Laura Bush
Education     5sig. x  5suc. =  25
Michelle Obama
(2009- )
Childhood Obesity     6sig. x  ?suc. =  ?

Curious about the rest? Read the whole thing here!

My latest at PJM:

Fancy carbon footwork: How Climate-Change Dance Theory spells the end of a movement

“A growing number of Americans are beginning to think that global warming alarmism is little more than some sort of hippie plot to drag us back to the Stone Age. Or, failing that, at least drag us back to the Hippie Age. And what with the abject failure of the international community to reach any kind of binding agreement at the recent Copenhagen climate conference, and the growing unlikelihood that the U.S. Senate will pass any bill to combat that chimerical foe Anthropogenic Global Warming, coupled with the scandal-a-minute collapse of any scientific “consensus” that we’re even changing the climate after all, the alarmists are now looking at a bleak future of their grand scheme devolving into nothing more than a passing fad along the lines of Hula Hoops or the Macarena.

The same thing happened in the 1960s. The early anti-war protests against U.S. involvement in Vietnam were fervent, sincere, and convinced of their eventual efficacy. But as months turned to years and the Johnson administration not only ignored the protests but escalated the war at every opportunity, it became painfully obvious that the anti-war movement of the mid-’60s had failed. It may have gotten a lot of protesters laid, but it did nothing to actually stop the war. By the time the late ’60s rolled around — i.e. the Hippie Age — most protesters had little or no expectation that their antics would influence Nixon to stop bombing Indochina (or whatever other shenanigans he was up to that week); rather, protests had become mostly an excuse to party. Or, seen from the reverse angle, most public musical events for the younger generation by then acquired a political overtone, so that you were no longer just dancing for the fun of it, but were now “dancing for peace.”

Dancing for peace, 1969.

My thesis is that once any movement begins to engage in hollow, ridiculous and futile gestures (such as “dancing for” anything), it’s an indicator that the movement has run out of steam and will soon go extinct. It is therefore with great interest that I’ve been noticing not just the strange new outbreak and continuous barrage of climate change dances but more significantly an upcoming lecture being given at U.C. Berkeley entitled Mitigating Global Warming Through Art — Exploring the Importance of Music for the Change of Lifestyles. The listing for the talk (given by visiting lecturer Maximilian Mayer at U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies) notes that “Music in general and art in particular seems to be a promising Archimedean point for multiple new life styles. Performing music and dancing combine the advantages of those three alternative approaches. Additionally, they may be powerful enough to substitute the culture of consumerism since they enable a creativity-based self-autonomy as well as cultural self-sufficiency.” In other words, not only have the global warming alarmists started dancing in a last-ditch attempt to save the planet, but they have now even developed an academic pseudo-scientific theory as to why dancing is a necessary and perhaps the only remaining way to prevent the climate from changing. …”

Read the rest here!

Crib Notes Technology Cost Analysis

Most politicians use “crib notes” of some kind while giving speeches.

Some bring 3×5 cards listing key points. Others refer to handwritten rough drafts. And some even read from pages on which the entire speech has been printed out.

But Barack Obama and Sarah Palin each have their own unique crib notes technology. The two diagrams below analyze how much each type of technology costs per speech.

When Films are Ruined by “Special Features”

My latest post at PJM — something non-political this time around:

When Films are Ruined by “Special Features”

A teaser:

“Recently I rented a DVD of the award-winning 2003 documentary Winged Migration. Famed as one of the most unique and beautiful films ever made, Winged Migration literally takes the viewer up into the sky as it follows birds on their long-distance seasonal flights around the world. Somehow, seemingly as if by magic, the cameras are right there amongst the migrating birds, and you feel as if you are flying thousands of feet in the air with your fellow avians over landscapes which range from the picturesque to the breathtaking. When the film was over, all I could say was “Wow!”

Making Winged Migration.

And then, I made the terrible, terrible mistake of clicking on “Special Features” in the DVD menu. Ten minutes later, I realized retroactively that I didn’t like the film after all. In fact, I hated it.

Why? Because among the special features was one of those short “The Making of…” mini-documentaries which divulged the secrets of how they filmed Winged Migration. And it revealed that the film was all a lie. A beautiful lie, but a lie nonetheless.

The filmmakers had not documented any actual migrations. Not only were the birds not migrating, they weren’t even wild birds! They were basically trained actors, with wings. The “making of…” documentary showed, step by step, how they had hand-raised some migratory birds from the moment they hatched and had, using the “imprinting” techniques of Konrad Lorenz, tricked the birds into thinking that the cameramen were their mommies. As explained in wikipedia, “The filial imprinting of birds was a primary technique used to create the movie [Winged Migration], which contains a great deal of footage of migratory birds in flight. The birds imprinted on handlers, who wore yellow jackets and honked horns constantly. The birds were then trained to fly along with a variety of aircraft, primarily ultralights.”

So to film the birds “migrating” somewhere, the director actually just attached a camera to a motorized hang glider (called an “ultralight”), then let the birds out of their cages and started filming as the birds followed the ultralight around on a short flight, after which they all landed and were put back in cages. To make matters worse, the birds didn’t follow the ultralight from region to region on long-distance flights, as the viewer was led to believe. No, as revealed to my shock in the “making of…” documentary, the filmmakers packed the birds away in shipping containers and actually trucked them around the world (on vehicles or in jetliner cargo holds) and then unpacked them only when they were at some pre-determined spot chosen by location scouts for its natural beauty. At which point, the ultralight would again take off, and the “migrating birds” would follow it around for a few minutes, before landing and getting back in the cages. …”

Read the rest here.

Now at PJM:

The Elitism and Racism of “Local Food” and the Edible Schoolyard

“Eat local” is the latest intellectual fad on the Left Coast. These “locavores,” as adherents like to call themselves, want you to eat only food grown near where you live — say, within 100 miles of your home. The goal, in theory, is to foster “sustainable agriculture,” to lower the carbon footprint of your food (which generally travels thousands of miles from farm to kitchen table), and consequently get that warm-and-fuzzy back-to-the-earth type feeling.

Oh, did I mention that the locavore movement is most popular in California?

This little detail is significant because California is just about the only state in the entire union that has the climate and the soil to grow such a wide variety of produce that it could even theoretically support its current population with “locally grown” food.

While food is grown in every state, most of that food is not sold directly to individual consumers — it is sold to food manufacturers around the country and around the world. So even if you lived right in the middle of a Kansas wheat field, you probably couldn’t “eat locally” because you would have no retail access to that wheat, which will instead probably end up in a bagel at Coney Island.

And don’t miss the hidden second page of the essay, which is actually a full-fledged photo report on its own, with pictures like…

Read the rest here!

My latest up at PJM:

Wine Train Stimulus Scam Gets Even Uglier With No-Bid Set-Aside Swindle

Fiscal conservatives have been howling in protest over the $54 million earmarked by Obama’s Stimulus Package to finance something called “The Wine Train” in California’s scenic Napa Valley. The notion that the government was squandering millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up a private tourist attraction seemed to epitomize everything that was wrong with pork-barrel politics masquerading as sober economic policy. I mean, while we’re subsidizing tourist traps, why not give a couple hundred million to Disneyland to build a new “Pirates of the Potomac” ride?

But the howls are about to get a lot louder. Because an investigation just published by California Watch and reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle shows that the Wine Train scam was far worse than you imagined. The $54 million wasn’t just spent on an overpriced not-a-thrill ride for tipsy tourists: it was thrown down the toilet on a no-bid contract handed to a shady Alaskan front corporation which deviously abused race-based “set-aside” laws to land a vastly overpriced deal — which they then proceeded to subcontract at a much lower rate to a different company, while pocketing a cool $20 million for doing no work whatsoever.

Read the rest here.