Archives for 2007
After yesterday’s New Year’s Day downpour we continue to enjoy wonderful weather – sunny and in the mid-50s.
This has caused crocus confusion:
and the lavender and snapdragons are still holding up:
So are the weeds, but I don’t mind at all. I can only hope the rest of Winter is like this.
During the past two weeks Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, Kobayashi Maru and Eternity Road have been discussing global warming. At least what used to be called Global Warming; now the catchphrase is Climate Change.
Eternity Road poses Global Warming: The Unasked Questions
- By what standard would one judge whether global warming is actually occurring?
- Do we have data, not merely for our own era but for past eras, that indicates in an objective fashion that this is the case?
- If global warming is occurring, what will its foreseeable effects be over the near term? Over the long term?
- Are those effects beneficial or detrimental to human life? Mildly, moderately, or seriously?
- If the effects of global warming are foreseen to be detrimental, is it plausible that any change in human behavior could undo it?
- If the effects of global warming are foreseen to be detrimental but not catastrophically so — that is, if global warming carries no reasonable prospect of mass death or impoverishment — what are the pros and cons of adapting ourselves to a warmer world, as opposed to straining to keep it as it is today?
SC&A sees man’s role in answering those questions: Necessary Rerun: Hating Ourselves To Death: The Environmentalist Demands
Humans are a part of nature- a most important part. We meant to use all those those things in nature that are available to us. Do we hate ourselves much- and do we have so much hubris- to believe that we are not a part of nature?
Are there ecological issues that must be addressed? Of course there are. That said, too many are perfectly happy to see mankind as the problem and focus on bestowing the scarlet letter. Whatever problems we must address, we are in fact, the source of the solution – and it is for that we need to be recognized and not as the ‘cancer’ on nature. The solution will not be realized by reducing populations and redefining human values (To be sure, those slated for ‘elimination’ do not include those who support the idea. Surprise)
In fact, from a historical perspective, man’s greatest achievements have come about as the result of dealing with the situation at hand and not by ‘killing off’ the problem. Those who hate mankind have no faith in imagination, possibilities and the human capacity to achieve, progress and reach an ever greater potential. Greatness is never arrived at from despair or self hatred. In fact, the proponents of man as the ‘cancer’ of nature are no different than racists. It is they who decide what and who are of value and it is they who wish to decide the future of others. If your grandmother is ill, she too, becomes disposable. If your child has chronic asthma, well, he or she is less than perfect. If the rest of us who are healthy are a ‘cancer,’ one can only imagine how much value is placed on those less than perfect, or those who might be different. We know about that, firsthand
big, observable events that might indicate global warming but not its exact cause–like ice sheets breaking loose in the Arctic or Antarctic–are taken up in an MSM whirlwhind whereas big, observable events like unprecendented solar flare activity provoke far less notice, much less any speculation or editorializing about a possible link to global warming?
When I first did those two posts last year I received A Lot of angry emails (I wasn’t taking blog comments at that point) filled with personal attacks, not arguments pro/against my position on global warming. The gist of the emails had to do with my being a moron. One of the emails explained at length why it’s important that there is consensus, as if science’s main concern were to build consensus instead of accurately observing, measuring and replicating results. Indeed, if they can not be measured, quantified, and replicated, your observations will never amount to science, no matter how attractive your theory might be. Building consensus is the art of the politician, not of the scientist.
I expect that’s how apostates are treated.
Shortly after writing those posts I went to a conference and casually said during lunchtime, “I’m not all that sold on global warming”. The reaction (shock, anger, and disgust) around the table was worse than if I’d said the most obscene blasphemy. It was an interesting reaction, considering that the people involved supposedly had a modicum of science in their backgrounds.
All the same, while we ponder Global Warming/Climate Change here in the East Coast, it’d probably be a good idea if we don’t ask the folks in Colorado and the Great Plains how they are enjoying global warming.
For the time being, I’m certainly enjoying this warm spell here in The Principality.
(The Principality = Princeton Borough + Princeton Township)
The Daily Ablution:
That’s not to say that one or two end-of-year items didn’t catch my interest – did you realise, for example, that last year was the coolest worldwide since 2001 (PDF – see page 3)? (Indeed, the Russian winter of 2005-06 was the coldest for decades). Would it surprise you to learn that the arctic ice cap recovered slightly from its 2005 extent (PDF – page 2)? Probably, given the spin on facts that most of the media almost invariably employ when the topic of climate change arises. Similarly, coverage of the IPCC’s recent adjustment of its worst-case projections for sea level rise this century (from 34 to 17 inches) seems muted, especially when one considers the likely media response had the estimate been increased by the same proportion.
Update 2 Middle Ground
there is an emerging “middle ground” of scientists who are not a) screeching hysterics crying that we are all going to roast – after all the polar bears are dead or, b) paid shills of the evil energy industry who is just trying to keep us all down, man.
(h/t Larwyn and The Anchoress)
Dr Sanity has an exceptionally good post, REDISTRIBUTING POVERTY, on freedom and wealth:
It is economic freedom that is the true cure for poverty. Not taxes. Not regulation. Not government control of the economy and redistribution of wealth; but capitalism. And, it is important to note that economic freedom is unachievable without political freedom. That is the link between poverty and governance. It is not enough to have a superficial form of democracy like the Palestinians, Iranians or the Venezuelans. The proof of a free country is more than just getting to vote for various thugs and criminals once in a while. It is in being able to pursue your own, individual goals and happiness freely without interference or contrary demands from the state.
I wholeheartedly agree with her, when I said that
history has shown time and time again that a society where people are not allowed to have, earn and invest money is a totalitarian society where there are no basic freedoms, and freedom is one component of happiness. Freedom of enterprise and ownership (I consider that one freedom) is inherent to happiness.
Doug Ross goes at it: Welcome to the Joseph Rago Pro Journalist Institute
Liberty is the end-result of a long and difficult cultural and philosophical evolution.
Gerard has 2007 Predictions: Oh, the Humanity! I hope he’s wrong but they all sound very likely.
Raven says Men do matter; but so do women
Three from Townhall:
Dr Sowell writes about The real issue at Duke: Nifong’s job.
Debra Saunders wants to Ring out the old bromides
Castro’s true legacy is a trail of blood
Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2006. Patterico mentions Maj. Megan McClung, who I metioned last month and about whom Michael Fumento has written.
The Ivy-covered con game
But nobody has ever explained to me why the cost of a liberal arts education has gone through the roof and clear over the moon. After all, there are no expensive machines involved, no groundbreaking technological advances. The only things they use are books, and the price of paper hasn’t gone up all that much. I think what we need is a Wizard of Oz handing out sheepskins to all the scarecrows in our society.
After finding out about the goings-on at HamCol, I can’t say I disgree.
Are Animal Studies Useful to Humans? Going by the article, I’d have to review the study data before saying whether it was valid or not.
More blogging later.
A movie review of Volver
Pedro Almodovar brings to the screen a heartwarming chick-flick about murder and incest.
The movie starts at a cemetery where dozens of a town’s widows laboriously clean the tombstones of their dead husbands’ graves; “Men don’t live as long as women in this town,” we are told. The only exception are Raimunda (Penelope Cruz), her sister Sole (short for Soledad, which means loneliness, which indeed the character is, played by Lola Duenas) and Raimunda’s daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo), who are cleaning the grave of their mother and father who died three years earlier in a fire.
Their town in La Mancha (home of both Don Quijote and Almodovar) is named Alcanfor de las Infantas (the camphor of the princesses) and indeed the town is steeped in the mothballs of yesteryear – the widows wear black, the houses are classic courtyard houses, the dolls are made of porcelain, the traditions are part of everyday life, and the city is far away, separated by a modern windmill farm.
Theirs is a world without men.
It is a world of hard work and clean, modestly pleasant and very colorful surroundings, but, as I said, a world without men. The only men in Alcanfor de las Infantas show up at a funeral, and at that point one wonders if they are ghosts.
There is a great deal of symbolism in the film but I won’t focus on that. This is a movie about relationships. Bear with me for a moment.
Penelope Cruz does a terrific job in this film. All that remains from her Hollywood bimbo years is the breast surgery, and even that becomes a minor joke when her mother, played by the always great Carmen Maura, asks her
“Weren’t your t**s smaller? I don’t remember their ever being so big”.
Penelope’s acting reminded me of Sophia Loren in Sunflower. Like Sophia, Penelope credibly portrays a woman in her thirties coping with exhausting work and a hard life. Sophia’s part in Sunflower was a woman who was truly in love and whose commitment to her man was complete.
No such thing can exist in Volver. The men at the margins of these women’s lives might be helpful or considerate but the men with whom these women are involved are the worst of the worst – Raimunda’s ugly husband was a lazy drunk, and a pig. The message of the movie is that the only way these women can live in peace is by killing them.
I read the NYT review after watching the fim, and A. O. Scott said,
Men, for Raimunda and her circle, tend to be malevolent, irrelevant or simply absent: straying husbands, predators, dead bodies. They cause a fair amount of trouble, but the point of “Volver” is that it’s not about them.
It is about what American feminists of an earlier era called sisterhood, and also about the complicated bonds of kinship and friendship that Mr. Almodóvar observed as a child growing up among women in traditional, patriarchal, gender-separated (and fascist) Spain.
The American feminists have, in all their sisterhood, routinely defined relations between men and women as inherently adversarial. Complicated bonds of kinship and friendship can and should exist between the sexes, but in this movie what Almodovar tells us is that women can’t live in peace if there are men around. That’s why those widows were completing their wifely duties by keeping those tombs immaculate.
In previous films Almodovar’s women were completely subjugated to men (to the point where they were near-dead, like the women in the perverse Talk to Her). In Volver, the women just kill them off. Obviously this is not any improvement.
Volver is a chick-flick for the Oprahfied. There’s even a talk show scene to boot. This movie has its good moments, particularly because of the actresses, but its message is clear.
Almodovar writes in the film’s official website,
Volver destroys all the cliches about “black” Spain and offers a Spain that is as real as it is the opposite. A Spain that is white, spontaneous, funny, intrepid, supportive and fair.
Supportive and fair, as long as you kill off those bad men. Once the men are out of the way, the women can become whole and mend each others’ hearts.
While the NYTimes reviewer says,
Very few filmmakers have managed to smile so convincingly in the face of misery and fatality,
Mr. Almodovar is to be pitied for never having had a father to show him how to be a good man.
Rated R because of adult situations and language. In Spanish with English subtitles. The subtitles were clear and accurately conveyed the meaning of the dialogue.
(Tango purists might not be too happy that Carlos Gardel’s classic tango Volver has been changed into a flamenco song, but it’s a really lovely rendition which is one of the highlights of the story.)
Special thanks to Francis Porretto for naming me as one of his top-ten bloggers. I am indeed honored.
(gif “borrowed” from Linda)