April 2008


Awesome:

Awesomer:

I’ve been getting a flood of e-mails and phone calls, some of which include death threats, about my attempt to raise awareness of how the great porn dragon inspires Jews into pornography and prostitution and then, like the snake he is, turns the public against the Jews. Some have questioned whether there is any link to Jews and porn-prostitution. I guess I’ll have to start showing the evidence […]

(In one of those “stranger than fiction”-type coincidences, Great Porn Dragon is my rap name.) Awesomest:

[Zirkle] says he’s not for segregation in terms of oppression or crime. Rather, he says it’s something voters should consider with crime rates and out of wedlock births high among African Americans. “The segregation, when you use that word, it’s a loaded term and many people think about oppressing a people and denying the right to vote. And no one is calling for that type of segregation because that was wrong and I even said that was criminal,” says Zirkle. “We could have six states that are African American, 44 states white and Hispanic, because I don’t really see much of a difference between the two cultures. Let people vote and let them decide.”

Which puts him to the left of respected political thinkers Michelle Malkin, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michael Savage. I think I’m starting to understand this Liberal Fascism deal.

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Dispatches from WWIV, the defining conflict of our generation:

Next week’s much anticipated final report by a bipartisan commission on the origins of the 9/11 attacks will contain new evidence of contacts between al-Qaeda and Iran—just weeks after the Administration has come under fire for overstating its claims of contacts between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Further:

Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader issued a new audiotape Tuesday accusing Shiite Iran of spreading a conspiracy theory about who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks to discredit the power of the Sunni terrorist network.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, has stepped up his denunciations of Iran in recent messages in part to depict al Qaeda as the Arabs’ top defense against the Persian nation’s rising power in the Middle East.

Indeed:

Admiral Mullen says insurgent weapons found recently provide evidence that Iranian operatives are continuing, and increasing, their support for Iraqi Shiite insurgents, directly contradicting a promise Iran’s president reportedly made late last year to Iraq’s prime minister.

So, for those keeping score at home we are currently at war with … somebody … for the very simple reason of … because. Or something. In any case we can’t stop, or point out that it’s retarded, because that would show weakness and even possible nerdiness, and then Miss Freedom Rising won’t let us take her to the prom and Zombie Saddam will lock us in our lockers and give us a swirly in front of all the cool kids at the UN. Or something. Anyway, we’ll just keep fighting whoever until we win something.

I LOVE THIS WAR SO MUCH.

Via Jim Henley, we learn that Virginia Postrel has solved the energy crisis:

In the real world, barring a massive buildup of nuclear plants, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means consuming less energy and that means raising prices a lot, either directly with a tax or indirectly with a cap-and-trade permitting system.

Elsewhere, Sean Carrol determines that biofuels are a crappy source of solar energy, and that nuclear fission is the way to go:

As an uneducated guess, I would imagine that in the medium run the world will have to turn to (Earth-based!) nuclear power for its energy needs. In the longer run, solar will be the way to go, although the amount of solar power we can reasonably collect here on Earth is somewhat limited. We’ll likely have to solve the problem of how to efficiently beam power down from orbit, after which we can build big million-square-kilometer solar power collectors in space. Not in my lifetime, I would bet.

Biofuels have been getting a bad rap recently, generally because – in the US, at least – “biofuel” is a synonym for “corn ethanol”, which has long been considered a technology with very limited promise, and is the only “alternative fuel” (aside from, one could argue, nuclear) which has ever received any significant federal investment. Compare to, for example, biodiesel from algae:

“If you replaced all the diesel in the U.S. with soy biodiesel, it would take half the land mass of the U.S. to grow those soybeans,” says Matt Caspari, chief executive of Aurora Biofuels, a Berkeley, Calif.-based private firm that specializes in algae oil technology. On the other hand, the Energy Department estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles, which is a few thousand miles larger than Maryland.

Which sounds like a lot of real estate, but is only 1/7th the land area used for corn production in 2000 (last two links and 1/7th stat via Wikipedia. And could this 15,000 mi^2 be on the ocean? The ocean doesn’t vote.) Biofuels can also be extracted from agricultural and industrial waste. In practice, none of these technologies are actually ‘carbon neutral’, but they are tremendous improvements over fossil fuels, and there is no fundamental reason why, as the technology matures, it couldn’t be brought arbitrarily close to carbon neutrality. In addition, it is designed to work with our current fossil fuel infrastructure, which is an often-overlooked point when discussing alternative fuel options. The electric motor is a wonderful thing with endless advantages over internal combustion, but replacing every V-6 on the road with an all-electric engine would cost a great deal of money and energy, and would probably be a very hard sell to the world’s #1 CO2 producer, where per capita income is less than $2000/year.

All bio/fossil fuels are stored solar energy. Solar energy is, on any non-astronomical timescale, constant and inexhaustible. My namesakes at Scientific American gives us a sense of how much energy we’re talking about:

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

That 2.5% is 10,000 mi^2 at 100% efficiency, comparable to the estimated 15,000 mi^2 needed for domestic petroleum replacement. In addition to this unimaginably huge natural supply of solar energy (which includes wind, bio/fossil fuels, etc.), there is energy from nuclear fission, hydroelectric/geothermal energy (a combination of Earth’s gravitational and naturally-occurring fission), tidal energy (essentially derived from the Earth’s rotational momentum), and eventually perhaps controlled nuclear fusion. None of these are without drawbacks – some create waste, some require large land areas, and so on. But the potential energy available is, for all intents and purposes, infinite. And extracting it is, fundamentally, not a very difficult problem. So a couple of things:

1. All non-fossil fuel technologies are, at this point, immature, so judging classes of them as failures at this point is very, very premature. (As would be judging them successes – all 15,000mi^2 figures are to be viewed with considerable skepticism until actually delivered.) If you were handicapping the technologies available to the horseless carriages 100 years ago, you would be fully justified in favoring the simpler electric or the proven coal-powered steam engine over the newfangled gas-o-leen that the Chardonnay-sipping elitists in Detroit were trying to foist on you. Now, however, you’d look like a mustache-waxing prick in amusing period dress for saying this, but do you ever learn? No you never do, you mustache-twirling, stovepipe hat-wearing ass. It is remarkable what a good idea and a few trillion R&D dollars can do towards making you look the fool.

2. There is no answer, and there is no end state. We have always used a mix of energy sources, and that mix has always varied over time, in response to economic and technological circumstance. That’s history fact. Fundamentally, there is no limit to available energy, nor is there any essential connection between energy and carbon dioxide, or any form of pollution. That’s science fact. As technologies mature, some will show more promise in certain applications, others will disappear, and still more will be discovered. If anyone knew any of the particulars of how this process will play out over the next 10-20 years, they’d be trillionaires already.

3. This evolution can be greatly expedited by broad and deep public spending on R&D, and not very much by cooing sweet libertarian nothings about the Invisible Hand while generously subsidizing corn ethanol and oil drilling. Rather than prove this in the conventional way, I will merely note that Ron Bailey has already written an opinion to the contrary, and then ask you to remind me of the last time Ron Bailey was remotely right about anything. Exactly. Indeed, I will suggest to you that the only way to fully appreciate the magnitude of my Rightness here, you have to read the entire Ron Bailey article, for only then will you truly know. Better you than me, anyway.

All the search and replace that’s fit to print:

It’s a tie! While Hillary Clinton has to be happy with her performance today, doing better than anybody was predicting as recently three days ago, Obama has to be happy with his performance, performing as he did dramatically better than anybody was predicting as recently as a week and a half ago. I have to imagine that – given the results we’ve seen tonight – there’s just no way Hillary Clinton is going to drop out of the race. Barack Obama, by maintaining approximately the same lead in pledged delegates he had before today’s contests, has to be feeling good about the prospect of going into the convention with a significant lead in pledged delegates, a prospect that will likely sway superdelegates to his side. Hillary at this point has to know that the superdelegates are the key to the nomination, and will redouble her efforts to bring them into her camp – a prospect that will surely be easier after tonight. It also seems perfectly clear that Democratic insiders – worried about a protracted primary fight, and the damage it will do to the party – will be strongly tempted to support Obama. That said, I think this can’t but help Hillary in the court of public opinion. Of course, Obama has maintained tremendous ability to raise and spend money, which may prove decisive.

One thing’s for sure: winning big in Pennslyvania Guam will be absolutely critical for both candidates.

Rinse, repeat. Can we just have the convention now and get this nonsense over with? I can clear out some space in my den for us to use.

I can dust this thing off as many times as I need to. Don’t test me!

aaaand I’m right again.

It’s like I’m a fucking genius up in here.

Further uses for wingnuts:

One reason I enjoy covering Rod Dreher is that he rekindles my love for America. We are surrounded by conservatives who insist that they love America, and describe it as a horrible place where the unfortunate deserve only the back of the hand of power, which must be maintained by endless wars. After a bellyful of their patriotism I sometimes begin to doubt my own. Maybe they’re right, I begin to think: maybe the ugly America they celebrate is the real America, and I have only deluded myself that it was something better.

But when brother Rod denounces the West, as he is increasingly prone to do, my defensive reaction troubles me less. Because while I would agree with him, and his sources, that there are many things wrong with this country, his judgment of general rottenness on our way of life so offends me that I turn into a regular Yankee Doodle Dandy. When he says “[Patrick] Deneen raises the possibility that events — economic, especially — will do more to enhance traditionalist conservatism’s prospects with the public than anything else,” and I realize he is praying for catastrophe to befall us so that we will all come running to Jesus and the Old Ways for protection, I feel the sort of things that liberals of old must have felt when student radicals threatened to burn the motherfucker down: this is still my country, and if we are ridiculous about a number of things, I will certainly side with it against the likes of you. […]

Heaven knows I get mad about what’s going on in this country, and often treat its leaders, opinion or otherwise, and even its citizens with raw contempt. So I’m thankful that Dreher and The Anchoress are around to set me straight. The American people are often ridiculous and sometimes do horrible things, and I have turned my wrath on a broad array of our native fixers, crackers, dupes, dopes, and scumbags. But they are still my people. I too want more than I could possibly deserve, chafe at well-meant and even reasonable restrictions, and prefer a good time to a Great Awakening. And in the last ditch I’ll take my stand with our credit-, pleasure-, and freedom-addicted folk against our would-be saviors.

I don’t torment myself with wingnuts as often as I once did. There are any number of reasons for this, all of which are different ways of saying “because it is hateful and I hate it.” And one of these ways was me wondering “well, why don’t you move to Russia, then, since you seem to like it so much?” I didn’t mean it like that, obviously – I meant the Russia of Putin, unashamed of its corrupt plutocracy and torturing police state and leader cult, where one can have one’s despotism taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy. Which come to think of it, is the Russia of a century and a half ago, and the Russia of a half-century ago, too, though sadder and with different lyrics. So maybe I did sort of mean it like that, but I only meant that you’d be happier there, and I’d be happier with you there, and we could all be happy in the knowledge that everyone was happier, and that’s utilitarian Yahtzee.

Or maybe I didn’t mean Russia so much as Mexico. Or maybe not Mexico. Maybe some South American place like, I don’t know, Paraguay? or, you know, one of those places on which the composite South American dictatorships you see in movies are based. I might mean Argentina, or El Salvador, maybe – I confess it all blends together. In any case, you’d get all the advantages of Russia, better food and weather, and El Presidente might not look quite so much like Angus Scrimm. And you could get American TV! So why don’t you move to a composite picture of a banana republic, then?

And then, having exhausted my knowledge of both the real-but-distant and not-really-real-but-based-on-a-shocking-true-story worlds, I start to look around, and notice that most places where there’s an important button around here, there’s one of your fingers. Well, not your fingers obviously, which are otherwise engaged, but the sorts of fingers which you would just as soon see there. And as that’s the case, I start thinking “well, why don’t I move to Russia, then? Since what’s the functional difference at this point, anyway?” And the best answer I can come up with is that “it’s cold, and they talk Ruskie.” Would my DVDs even work there? Plus, moving’s kind of a pain generally. And I’m not having so much fun now that the valenki is on the other foot.

… And also this field guide to the fauna and/or flora of wingnuttia.

ACLU:

From illegal kidnapping and torture by the CIA, to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, to the “enhanced interrogation” of terror suspects at Guantánamo, our nation’s torture policies have come from the top.

I urge you to:

1. Support strenuous efforts, including the appointment of an independent prosecutor, to hold President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and other high-ranking officials accountable for their role in condoning and/or authorizing U.S. involvement in torture.

2. Condemn Administration efforts to conduct military commission proceedings that allow for the use of evidence gained through torture.

3. Send a powerful message to future presidents that Congress will use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal conduct.

Obama:

Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront [sic?], then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law […]

And John Yoo is discovering yet another form of unwelcome attention. The rest of your lives leaves us a good, long time, kids.

In what may go down in the annals of trolling as an achievement on par with Cantor’s work on cardinality, over at Yglesias’s blog a commenter who goes by “line” manages a concern troll about trolling on a post about a post about trolling on a post about a Congressman doing some — and this is the only description that fits, really — trolling of his own.

Line, I salute you, you crazy bastard.

The serve:

I’ve never commented on here before, but I must say some of the people who do are quite ridiculous. I guess this sort of thing flows like an underground river in the democratic party.

Posted by line | April 15, 2008 9:25 AM

The return:

I understand that right-wing blogs aren’t the echo chambers that they once were, but left-wing blogs have traditionally been come-all-ye affairs. Al, Chris Ford, Fred, Sailer and their elk AREN’T Democrats.

Posted by Jeffrey Davis | April 15, 2008 9:33 AM

Game, set and match:

Oh, it doesn’t really matter if they’re democrats or not. It’s nice to know that those responsible for those comments aren’t of my party affiliation, but still, I’ve met many a democrat who’d say very similar things.

Posted by line | April 15, 2008 9:41 AM

Excellence at work, people.

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