Thursday, March 27, 2008

Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse: Another View

Yesterday morning the first story I heard on the TV was about a portion of the Antarctic ice shelf collapsing. As usual the newscaster read this story in a somber tone while citing unnamed scientists who claim this is further proof of alarming global warming, caused by humans of course. Below is an excerpt of an analysis from ICECAP.

Mar 25, 2008

Misleading Reports About Antarctica

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Last year when Antarctic set a new record for ice extent, it got no media attention. They focused on the north polar regions where the ice set record low levels. This summer when unprecedented anomalous cover continued in the Southern Hemisphere again no coverage. Then this report in the news today. You probably saw it on your favorite network or internet news site (pick one, anyone).

Icecap Note: Let’s put this in perspective. The account may be misinterpreted by some as the ice cap or a significant (vast) portion is collapsing. In reality it and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.

The full Wilkins 6,000 square mile ice shelf is just 0.39% of the current ice sheet (just 0.1% of the extent last September). Only a small portion of it between 1/100th-1/200th of Wilkins has separated so far, like an icicle falling off a snow and ice covered house. And this winter is coming on quickly. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere fall season and 6 months ahead of the peak. Wilkins like all the others that temporarily broke up will refreeze soon. We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear.

Here is the link to the information on the active volcanoes in the Antarctic.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Obama Drama

As usual Robert Bidinotto has an insightful post on the Obama speech about his relationship with Jeremiah Wright. Look under March 18, "An Elegant Farce." Lest we be accussed of being racially biased (i.e., a white guy cannot understand a black's perspectgive) here is a column from Thomas Sowell titled "Obama's Speech."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Global Warming Quiz

Or should I use the newer lingo and call it a "Climate Change Quiz"? A friend send me this link. Give it a shot. (I got a 100%, not that I'm bragging.)

Global Warming Quiz

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kudos for the Ayn Rand Institute

Anyone who happens to find this blog would probably know that I harbor some criticisms of Objectivism which would automatically disqualify me from being associated with ARI. To modify something Woody Allen said, I won’t belong to an organization that won’t have me. In any case, my first exposure to Ayn Rand was in 1968 as a freshman entering college, the year of the Rand-Branden split. Two of the people I hung out with in college who had been studying Objectivism for about a year originally sided with Rand. (One of them is a staff member of The Atlas Society but I won’t divulge the name in case this person objects.) Years later when Barbara Branden published The Passion of Ayn Rand I had come to the conclusion that there was more to the story about the Branden excommunication than the official version. I also concluded that Branden’s biography probably was a reasonably accurate depiction of Rand’s personality and its affects on the “Inner Circle” as well as those on the periphery.

Over the years my reading expanded beyond the usual Objectivist-approved books to include modern Aristotelians such as John Kekes and David Norton. (Norton’s Personal Destinies is still one of my favorite books.) Within the last 10 years I happened to also read Ken Wilber’s works after Nathaniel Branden referred to Wilber in a Full Context interview. (By the way, I used to write for Full Context.)

In the meantime I’ve subscribed to TAS's The New Individualist but not to any of the ARI-friendly mailing groups because I cannot in good conscience sign their loyalty oath. (Nor, as I said above, do I think they'd accept me.)

Why all of this personal information? To set the context for this post. Diana Hsieh posted a link to a video of ARI’s president Yaron Brook in which he discusses why he is optimistic about the future. He explained how ARI has placed about 1 million of Ayn Rand’s novels into the hands of teachers since 2002. Brook estimates that as many as 5 million kids could be exposed to her novels over the next several years. Visiting the ARI web site I also noticed they have developed lesson plans for teachers to use.

I think this is a clever and potentially successful strategy. Rand often said the route to cultural change was through the universities where kids are exposed to ideas at a time when they’re forming their own views on politics and life in general. The ARI approach of catching ‘em when they’re young and before kids enter college could help build a grassroots movement. Speaking from experience in raising twin girls I know they’re exposed to (politically) liberal, anti-free market ideas in high school but the intensity of this exposure seems to increase in college.

I think ARI folks realize that some percentage of these kids will be influenced enough to pursue Rand’s non-fiction and get heavily into the philosophy. Some percentage will read the books and move on. Others won’t dig into the philosophy but will like her approach. I’ve met several people through work and just recently in my tennis group who are confident and somewhat politically conservative. When they see me carrying a book related to Rand they’d say that they loved her novels. I’m sure over time this affect will spread as Brook predicts. If so, we should give ARI some credit for their role in this.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Oil for the People from the People? Part 2

Thanks to Robert Bidinotto who provides this link to a news story about gas stations who are converting to Marathon Oil because customers are boycotting Citgo in protect to the antics of Hugo Chavez.

2008 International Conference on Climate Change

The Heartland Institute hosted the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change as a alternative to the recent conference that was held in Bali to decry man-made climate change (the new buzz words to replace global warming, probably because for the last 8 years or so the global temperatures have been stable and in 2007 the earth's average temperature dropped by at least half a degree). The Heartland conference hosted many scientists who disagree with Gore and his minions and claim that global warming, if it is occurring, is driven more by the sun and other natural factors than it is by humans.

On the web site covering this conference is a document produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), "an international coalition of scientists convened to provide an independent examination of the evidence available on the causes and consequences of climate change in the published, peer-reviewed literature – examined without bias and selectivity. It includes many research papers ignored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), plus additional scientific results that became available after the IPCC deadline of May 2006."

It's a nice summary of an alternative view, which the mass media assidously avoids representing.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Links on the subprime mess

During my recent weekly doubles tennis match one of the fellows in our group launched into a rant about the pending collapse of the real estate market with the potential for a domino effect on other financial markets due to the subprime lending fiasco. I haven't paid much attention to this subject other than to notice the frequent buzz about this in the news. My teammate's panic-stricken comments spurred me to look into the subprime situation. Rather than regurgitate what I found I decided to provide some links. As usual the news media and our demagogue elected officials who want to make political hay off of this artificially created predicament got it wrong yet again.


Don't Waste Your Time If You Can't Pay the Prime

Sub-Prime Politicians and Mortgage Loans By People Buying Homes by Thomas Sowell

Subprime Economics
by Alan Reynolds

The Subprime Crash
by Arnold Kling

The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History by Yaron Brook