Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank God For The Gates Affair

This will have to result in a LOL funny Iowahawk piece.

I can just feel it.

Can't you?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Thing We Do? Kill All The...


It would be justifiable homicide. After all, they want to do us all in as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Capital Punishment UK Style

Health care rationing strikes again:

A man from east London who began binge-drinking at 13 has died after being denied a life-saving liver transplant.

Gary Reinbach, 22, from Dagenham, was given only a few weeks to live after developing cirrhosis of the liver.

He was admitted to University College Hospital London (UCL) with alcohol damage for the first time 10 weeks ago.

But health chiefs ruled he should not be exempt from strict organ donation criteria which require an alcohol-free period of at least six months.

Mr Reinbach, who died on Sunday, was too ill to be sent home after his admission to hospital.

So the British state gets to decide who lives and who dies based upon arbitrary bureaucratic rules.

And this is supposed to be more "humane" than health care in the US?

I think I'll pass.

And get a load of the scum bags in action:

A statement from NHS Blood and Transplant said: "This case highlights the dilemma doctors face because of the shortage of donated organs.

"They have to make tough decisions about who is going to get the benefit and who is going to take best care of this precious gift."
[emphasis added]

This begs the question, was it really the arbitrary rule that earmarked this young man for death, or was he doomed because the government didn't like his social class?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Weird Weather

Not that I'm I really complaining, but the cool weather this summer is taking some getting used to even though I've been up here in Wisconsin for awhile now.

Granted, it isn't terribly surprising given the lack of solar activity lately. But even taking that into account it is very unusual to see the local meteorologists so far off on their temperature forecasts. There have been multiple days when a 48 hour forecast has been 15+ degrees or more wrong. Most of the times they are saying it will be a lot warmer than it actually turns out to be, although they got it wrong in the other direction as well. We had a day in April which the 24 hour forecast said would be 72 degrees; it got to 98. (Now that was a freaky day, with steady 40 mps winds out of the south.)

48 hours ago the forecast said today was supposed to be 93 degrees. We are maxing out at around 75. Hell, last night we had to break out the comforters. We had the windows open and it got down to 57 in the bedroom. (I refuse to close up the house in July because of cold!)

And if you think the 48 hour forecasts are having it rough, the five day forecast are completely useless. I think someone will need to tweak the computer models they are relying on.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Baaaad Science Writing

A few days ago I blogged about a story I read in USA Today about sheep getting smaller on an Scottish island. I began by asking "Really, how stupid are the reporters at USA Today?" The answer is: Really, really stupid.

Call it the case of the shrinking sheep. On the remote Scottish island of Hirta, sheep have been getting smaller, shrinking an average of 5% over the last 24 years. Don't blame evolution, though. Researchers say climate change is the real culprit.
The Hirta sheep belong to a breed known as Soay, after the remote Scottish island where they arose. One of the most primitive forms of domestic sheep, Soays first came to Hirta in 1932. Because Hirta is a remote island, its sheep have remained genetically isolated, and no other sheep have been brought in for breeding. That's made Hirta's Soays ideal subjects for scientific study.

In 2007, scientists first reported that the sheep were smaller than they had been in the past. This prompted biologist Arpat Ozgul of Imperial College London and colleagues to analyze body weight data going back 24 years. The researchers confirmed that the Soays had indeed been getting smaller. And, as they report online today in Science, the reason appears to be climate change.

In the past, Hirta's sheep gorged on grass during their first summer, the team notes, piling on the weight in order to make it through the island's typically harsh winters. But over the past quarter-century, Hirta has had unusually short and mild winters. As a result, Ozgul and colleagues propose, grass has become available for more months of the year, meaning the Soay sheep do not have to bulk up as much. In addition, Hirta's harsh winters used to kill small ewes born to young mothers. But now these small ewes survive--and because of their low birth weight, they never get as big as normal sheep. That drives down the average size of the entire population, the team reports. Further mathematical modeling allowed the researchers to propose that natural selection has played little--if any--role in the shrinkage of the Hirta sheep.

Malcolm Gordon, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, praises the study. But he says that other mechanisms may be at work. "Changing [environmental] conditions on the island ... [may] have led to changes in the chemical composition and nutritional value of the plant foods the sheep eat," he says, and that may have shrunk the sheep. Though at the end of the day, he says, climate change could still be the root cause.

This account from ScienceNow, although even it has some problems in its reporting, is light years better than that given by USA Today. When I coupled this with a small story from this week's Economist I actually got a pretty good overview of the research. As I suspected the trouble with the USA Today story had more to do with their stupidity rather than the researchers.

For starters, the researcher did in fact check for other factors affecting weather in the region, including the North Atlantic Oscillation. USA Today probably didn't know what the NAO was so they left that out. Furthermore, the researchers did not, as USA Today claimed, use computer modelling to blame climate change for shrinking sheep sizes, but in fact only used it to rule out the effects of natural selection (which makes sense given we are only talking about 25 years here.)

Furthermore, the Economist made it clear that these were wild reproducing sheep (which even ScienceNow missed as being important), which is important as it limits the potential impact of human beings on the sheep.

USA Today, which is probably the most political of the Anthropogenic Global Warming crowd, has ceased to be a news source for me. They blatantly either misrepresented this research or they were too stupid to understand it. Either way they do not deserve to be read. I will be removing them from my Bloglines lineup, and I suggest you avoid them from now on as well.

I guess this proves not all reading is a good thing.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

From Someone Who Obviously Hasn't Been Paying Attention

From Slate:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and President Barack Obama make for strange bedfellows,

Yeah. One is a self-styled socialist who is slowly destroying his country with disastrous economic policies, while the other is President of Venezuela.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Baaaad Science

Really, how stupid are the reporters at USA Today?

Like the wool sweater that emerges from the dryer a size too small, global warming seems to be shrinking sheep.

On average, wild Soay sheep on Scotland's island Hirta are 5% smaller today than they were in 1985, according to a team of researchers led by Tim Coulson of Imperial College London.

"The decrease in body size was due to a reduction in growth rates caused, in part, by the changing climate," Coulson said in an interview via e-mail.

Evolution favors the development of large sheep, which can more easily survive harsh winters, Coulson explained. So the researchers became curious about the overall decline in size of the animals on Hirta.

They discovered that as the climate has grown milder, small lambs that would not have survived previous winters were now living to grow up and reproduce.

Since size is inherited, the survival and reproduction of these smaller animals lowered the average size of the herd.

Oh my God. There is so much wrong with the "logic" behind this it is difficult to know how to begin.

For starters, no attempt seems to have been made to look at other factors. Were the size of the flocks constant? We don't know. Why should that matter? Well, if you have more sheep on the same limited land mass, like, oh I don't know, say an island, then the sheep could be smaller because each is getting a little less food. The article states, wrongly, that size is only determined by inherited factors. If the reporter believes this he is an idiot. The supply of food is the primary factor accounting for the size of individual animals.

Could warmer weather also have an effect? Of course, but ti would be only one factor among many, AND you would have to get look at all of the said factors. (Real science is a bitch that way.) For example, what are the ocean currents like in the area? Have they shifted over the last 30 years. Oops, no one seems to have checked that. How does this compare to other eras when weather changed? Oops, no data on that.

So why is this interesting? We already know in human populations, when weather is harsher crop yields will be diminished and, as a result, people will more likely be malnourished. (Do any of these idiots remember the famines in Africa? Were they really that long ago?)

Of course, with any domesticated animal there is another potential factor. Human beings. All domesticated creatures have features that have been selected by their handlers. Sometimes, these features have been selected for a purpose, sometimes they were a bit of an accident. (For example, the selection of German Shepherds with a specific crouched look has also made them susceptible to hip problems - the look was intended, the related health problems were not.) Was any attempt made to see how the shepherds on the island may have been influencing the sheep? Doesn't sound like it.

Actually, the fact this "study" was conducted in a remote area should raise red flags. Last time I checked, we have been told that warming was a global phenomena. Why wouldn't sheep everywhere been showing the same traits? Why do we need to traipse off to some remote corner of the world to find this "result"? Could it be they wanted to limit the ability for other researcher to verify the findings, or maybe find other solutions? Seems likely given the sheer number of sheep one can still find in rural England.

In general, if one wanted to show something like what the researchers claim they are looking for, one should look for it in wild producing populations and not in domesticated animals at all.

But, then again, that would make sense, and the AGW "debate" isn't about making sense it's about bureaucrats gaining power.

"Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth."

Just in case you need confirmation concerning Obama's immoral stand against the Honduran people: A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.

The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'état.

That is nonsense.

In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.

To understand recent events, you have to know a bit about Honduras's constitutional history. In 1982, my country adopted a new Constitution that enabled our orderly return to democracy after years of military rule. After more than a dozen previous constitutions, the current Constitution, at 27 years old, has endured the longest.

It has endured because it responds and adapts to changing political conditions: Of its original 379 articles, seven have been completely or partially repealed, 18 have been interpreted, and 121 have been reformed.

It also includes seven articles that cannot be repealed or amended because they address issues that are critical for us. Those unchangeable articles include the form of government; the extent of our borders; the number of years of the presidential term; two prohibitions – one with respect to reelection of presidents, the other concerning eligibility for the presidency; and one article that penalizes the abrogation of the Constitution....

Under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras this past Sunday? Soldiers arrested and sent out of the country a Honduran citizen who, the day before, through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency.

These are the facts: On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.

Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new constitutions. When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an "opinion poll" about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.

Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years."
Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says "immediately" – as in "instant," as in "no trial required," as in "no impeachment needed."

Once again, this proves the utter dishonesty (or shocking ignorance and stupidity) of President Obama regarding what is and isn't legal in Honduras.

Presidnet Obama should be applauding the Honduran people for standing up for their Constitution, their law, and their democratic way of life. Instead, he wants to offer them up to a Hugo Chavez style dictator.

Whose side is he on I wonder.