Category: Science

Stop the Nuclear Diet

By , February 14, 2011 11:46 am

The nation’s nuclear energy diet has to end. These modular nuclear reactors and Obama’s promise of loan guarantees to the nuclear industry are two bites out what I hope is a very large apple.

Don’t Mind Us. We’re Just Here to Cook for You.

By , February 2, 2011 10:28 am

New York Times food critic Mark Bittman has a post up titled A Food Manifesto for the Future–the word manifesto is particularly apt–in which he attempts to set our tables in the future. What we eat; where and how it’s grown or raised; and whether it’s processed, subsidized, or advertised are all of concern to him. More importantly–and because he really has little or no power–he thinks it ought to be the concern of government, though he is careful to caution that

This isn’t nanny-state paternalism but an accepted role of government: public health. If you support seat-belt, tobacco and alcohol laws, sewer systems and traffic lights, you should support legislation curbing the relentless marketing of soda and other foods that are hazardous to our health — including the sacred cheeseburger and fries.

No, Mr. Bittman, one doesn’t follow the other; furthermore, if I accept your premise, where does the other end? If I accept sewer systems, should I also be okay with my government controlling what I read, listen to, or watch? After all, for example, your paper has drawn a straight line from Sarah Palin, right-wing talk radio, and the Tea Party to Tuscon, and we certainly don’t want any more of that nasty business.

Anyway, Mr. Bittman’s laundry list of things he’d like to prohibit or subsidize reads like a page from the rules implementing the Communist Manifesto (parentheticals are mine):

-End government subsidies to processed food. (Hey, I’m fine with that.)
. . .
-Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption. (Oh, I see. He’s not against subsidies; he’s against subsidies he doesn’t like. Never mind.)
. . .
-Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations. (I’m on the bandwagon again!)
. . .
-Encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. (I’m beginning to detect a pattern here.)
. . .
-Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (A very distinct pattern.)

Mr. Bittman goes on and on and on, but you get the idea. I also get the idea that he reads from the same playbook Al Gore uses. Bittman writes,

It’s difficult to find a principled nutrition and health expert who doesn’t believe that a largely plant-based diet is the way to promote health and attack chronic diseases . . . (emphasis mine)

Note the word principled. It’s purpose in that sentence can best be understood through substition:

It’s difficult to find a nutrition and health expert I agree with who doesn’t believe that a largely plant-based diet is the way to promote health and attack chronic diseases . . . (emphasis mine again)

And that substitution illustrates perfectly Mr. Bittman’s approach to food in our lives. He doesn’t like who’s picking the winners right now, so he wants new ‘pickers,’ a bias he betrays in one more bullet point on his list of winners and losers:

-Break up the U.S. Department of Agriculture and empower the Food and Drug Administration.

There, he says to himself in a very self-satisfied way, that will fix it. My elites will do much better than that last batch of elites.

I agree wholeheartedly with one item on his bulleted list, though I might disagree with him on how the idea is implemented:

-Mandate truth in labeling. Nearly everything labeled “healthy” or “natural” is not. It’s probably too much to ask that “vitamin water” be called “sugar water with vitamins,” but that’s precisely what real truth in labeling would mean.

I’m all for more information, as long as we leave it at that and let the masses in the market decide what to do with that information. I’m also all for eliminating subsidies–totally. Shifting them from one set of winners to another doesn’t cut it.

I’m going to continue monitoring the Food Czar at The New York Times, if for no other reason than to make sure I get to read the rest of the story behind this little teaser:

(Someday soon, I’ll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.)

I can’t wait!! Visions of fair-skinned culinary school graduates dressed in lederhosen are dancing in my head as I write.

Can it be? We’ll have to wait and see. But right now I have to cook breakfast.

Pot Misrepresented By Kettle

By , February 1, 2011 5:57 pm

In my last post, I noted that I hadn’t read much by or about Al Gore lately; he’d apparently taken a breather from his climate-change crusades, I assumed, because of that little matter in The National Enquirer or maybe he was busy decorating his new home in California. But then I read some of his blog and discovered that he’s been a relatively regular poster. I also learned that the guy spins faster than a top. To wit:

In a December 15, 2010 post titled Fox News Manipulates Climate Coverage, he writes,

Fox News has consistently delivered false and misleading information to its viewers about the climate crisis.

His evidence?

Today, Media Matters posted an alarming email sent by Bill Sammon, the Washington, DC, managing editor at Fox News. Sammon sent the email to Fox News producers on December 8, 2009 – just as the Climate Conference in Copenhagen was beginning:

“Subject:Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data”
“we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

And why is this misleading? Apparently because Al says so:

But there’s no legitimate debate: the planet is warming. Moreover, man-made global warming pollution is the principal cause.

No legitimate debate. Bias. Deniers. In my business–I write and teach writing, among other things–such words, used the way Gore and his acolytes use them, fall under the umbrella of logical fallacies. In other words, their purpose is to mislead your audience by mislabeling, misrepresenting, and denigrating your opponents without actually responding to their arguments. In short, they come in handy when you’re spinning.

He’s Baaaaack!!!

By , February 1, 2011 5:38 pm

The Goreacle has been absent from the world stage the last few month; at least, I haven’t read much if anything about him. That ended today with a bang, I mean, a blog post. To which a number of climate-change skeptics have responded. I’ll leave it to you to read what they had to say.

It’s 8:48 AM, and I’m Already Tired

By , January 31, 2011 8:50 am

The Chicken or The Egg?

By , January 30, 2011 8:46 pm

I know the answer

The chicken came first:

Then the egg:

The secret’s out.

Climate Change –

By , January 22, 2011 10:10 am

A little over a year ago, after someone leaked the CRU e-mails and computer code, I corresponded with a prominent climate scientist. I won’t disclose names because I don’t have the person’s permission. However, what I wrote bears repeating; at least, I think it does. By the way, the scientist responded very cordially, saying “all of your points are right on target.”

Dr. XXX,

Thanks for the two letters you’ve written regarding the CRU bruhah, including the one on Climate Audit and the one on Climate Progress. I agree with your sentiments. Climate change advocates would do well to read and apply what you say.

I am not a scientist, and I am not a denier–not in the sense that I deny the climate may be warming. I am, however, skeptical of AGW for simple, non-scientific reasons:

1. I’ve read many of the CRU e-mails, and I’ve read what others have said about them–both proponents of AGW and skeptics. Frankly, the skeptics’ explanations seem more credible to me, a layman. Dismissing some of what these e-mails say as merely scientists letting “loose occasionally when talking to friends and colleagues in private,” as many have, doesn’t pass the smell test. At the very least, one or more of the writers of those e-mail has some serious ethical problems.

2. And it’s not just the “letting loose” part.” The computer code–at least as I understand it from the comments of other programmers–does little to allay my fears that we’re rushing into the night without a clear understanding of what awaits us.

3. I learned long ago that calling your opponent Hitler says a lot about the quality of your argument and not much about theirs. It’s a rule of thumb that has served me well over the years. Likewise, when climate change advocates refer to climate change skeptics as deniers, the bells and whistles on my critical thinking monitors go off. I see that Nature magazine even uses the denier label. Are climate change advocates so tone deaf that they can’t see how that impacts the reception of their arguments?

4. Finally, in my world, actions speak louder than words. By that standard, the hypocrisy of many of the loudest climate changes advocates is off the charts. If, as they say, we have but 10 years to turn things around, why are they not living in tents instead of mansions? Why are they not teleconferencing rather that jetting to meetings around the world? And so on. Which, in a way brings me back to the CRU e-mails: After learning about the amount of funding Dr. Phil Jones has received over the years, I’ll never again allow myself to be swayed by the claim that I shouldn’t listen to scientists who receive funding from Big Oil. Never. If money taints, Dr. Jones will never recover.

Again, thanks for your two letters. You are spot on in them. Unfortunately, judging from the comments on Climate Progress, you’re likely to be drummed out of the field because of them.


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